The Tooth Decay Process: How to Reverse It and Avoid a Cavity
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease plaguing everyone from children through to seniors, and taking its toll in the form of tooth loss, gum disease, and worsening the effect of other serious diseases on the body. And yet, it can be prevented, and possibly even halted in its tracks before it gets to the point of no return. This can be achieved with a bit of effort on the home front and in the dentist’s chair.
Tooth decay is caused by a build-up of bacteria fed by left-over sugars and starches after meals. This, in turn, can lead to tartar, and up the chances of gum disease, tooth loss and deteriorating general health. So one of the best ways to prevent or stop decay is by ensuring the bacteria which cause decay don’t get to spend much time in your mouth. That way they can’t set up home, and get to work on destroying the enamel .
Evicting these bacteria can be done in several ways, including practising good oral hygiene, adopting healthy eating patterns, and abandoning bad habits. But your dentist can also play a big role when it comes to stopping them from taking up residence, by taking the necessary steps to protect and repair your teeth, and offering advice on how to get the best results from your prevention tasks at home.
Ways to Stop or Slow Tooth Decay
- Sealants: Statistics show that children’s back teeth or molars are the first to give way to decay in 9 out of 10 cases. But this can be prevented in most cases by the dentist painting a thin coating onto the molars’ chewing surfaces, which then settles in the hollow areas.
- Fluoride: Dentists focus on the importance of mineral fluoride as not only preventing, but also halting, and possibly reversing, the damage bacteria and the acid they produce, does to tooth enamel. Certain toothpastes, mouthwashes and tap water are all sources of fluoride.
- Remineralization: Work is underway on the development of so-called restoration products including slow-release fluoride materials that can be used between or in the hollows of the teeth. Special toothpastes and mouthwashes aimed at dealing with the early stages of tooth decay are also being produced to strengthen damaged enamel in the early stages of decay by remineralizing it with calcium and other minerals. This will stick to the enamel and form a patch over any small holes.
- Chewing gum may seem an unlikely weapon in the fight against tooth decay, but studies have found that if it is sweetened with xylitol instead of sugar, it may lessen the production and growth of bacteria, at least temporarily.
- Avoiding sugary and acidic food and drink and increasing your intake of dark leafy vegetables, as well as Vitamins C and D, and trying oil pulling will also make a large contribution to the fight against dental decay.
Regular dental visits will enable your dentist to evaluate the current condition of your dental health and make suggestions on how your program can be adjusted so as to reduce, halt, or even possibly reverse future tooth decay.