How do teeth decay?

Thousands of bacteria exist in our mouth and this is completely normal in fact most of these bacteria are beneficial. But there are two types of bacteria that aren’t and they are called Mutans Streptococcus and Lactobacillus. These bacteria are the primary culprits in the tooth decay process.

If you are not brushing and flossing regularly or if your oral environment is out of it’s natural balance these bacteria reproduce wildly in your mouth setting up huge colonies whenever they’re given the opportunity to feast on foods that contain sugar.The sugar builds up if it is not cleaned away every day by brushing and flossing; this build up is called plaque.

Plaque is a sticky film of saliva, food debris and baceria that’s constantly forming on our teeth. If the plaque is not removed it is mineralised and turns into rock hard tartar in as little as 24hrs. Every time you eat a starchy food, your teeth are bathed in the acids they produce through the sugar for 20 minutes or more. The acid slowly dissolves the hard protective layer of enamel on our teeth forming a de-mineralised area that appears as a white or brown spot on your tooth. This is the first visible sign of tooth decay.

If the area does not re-mineralise it will progress until eventually there is a hole on the surface of your tooth. This is called a cavity.

It is far better to catch cavities while they are still small and remain in the enamel layer of your tooth. Once they reach the softer dentine layer they grow rapidly and cause much bigger problems.

Some helpful tips in preventing plaque build up and cavities forming are:

  • Limit the frequency of meals and in between snacks you eat in a day.
  • Brush and floss regularly using flouride toothpaste
  • If you forget or for some reason can’t brush your teeth, make sure you at least rinse our mouth thoroughly with water or chew sugar free gum.

To assist in the prevention of tooth decay remember to visit us at Trigger Dental for regular  six (6) monthly check-ups.