Tooth decay may stop you from flashing a big grin – not because of the black spots that come with it, but because the pain prevents you from doing much with your mouth.
Tooth decay manifests tiny holes on the surface of your teeth. It typically starts as a dark speck but could develop into larger cavities if ignored. Your smile is hardly the only thing this damage affects. It could lead to gum disease, tooth loss, and intense pain, which makes talking, laughing, and eating challenging.
Get to the root of this problem before it gets to the root of your tooth. Learn all about it in the article below.
What is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is a painfully common dental problem that affects people of all ages worldwide. It happens when plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, forms on the dental surface and produces acids that damage the enamel. The unfortunate thing? Tooth decay is one of the most preventable chronic conditions.
How Does Tooth Decay Occur?
While millions of bacteria exist inside your mouth, only certain bacteria are associated with tooth decay. One of these is Streptococcus mutans. They create acid from the sugar in the foods and drinks you consume.
This acid then begins to attack the tooth’s surface, dissolving the minerals inside the tooth enamel in a process called demineralisation. When your dental enamel loses its minerals, your tooth begins to weaken.
Demineralisation occurs each time you eat or drink. Fortunately, saliva and fluoride from your toothpaste neutralise the acids and replace the minerals on the tooth’s surface (remineralisation). You can see why brushing your teeth is an essential step in preventing tooth decay.
When your teeth do not have enough protection by the time the process repeats, the bacteria begin to wreak havoc. Here are other fascinating facts about tooth decay.
Tooth Decay is the Second Most Common Disease Worldwide
Just how common is tooth decay? Next to the common cold, it is the second most common disease and a leading cause of tooth loss in adults. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 60 to 90% of children worldwide and nearly 100% of adults have experienced tooth decay.
In Australia, the Australian Dental Association reveals that untreated tooth decay affects one in three Australian adults over 15. Meanwhile, one in three children aged five to six has already had damage in a baby tooth.
Imagine how much of that could have been prevented with proper toothbrushing.
Sugar is the Main Culprit
You say you can’t lay off the sweets? Here’s another reason to cut back: sugary foods and drinks are the main culprits behind cavities. The sugars in these food items can increase the acid produced by your mouth’s bacteria, which can advance the breakdown of tooth enamel.
Fluoride Can Help Prevent Tooth Decay
Fluoride is a mineral that helps strengthen tooth enamel and can prevent erosion. You can find fluoride in toothpaste, mouthwash, and even tap water. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) found that fluoridated water can reduce the risk of cavities by up to 27% in adults. If your water supply does not contain fluoride, your dentist may recommend fluoride treatments to help protect your teeth.
Not Brushing Your Teeth is a Major Risk Factor
Not brushing and flossing regularly could be a major risk factor for developing decay. Plaque can build up on your teeth, leading to the breakdown of tooth enamel and the development of cavities. The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says your chances of developing a cavity increase by more than 30% if you don’t brush twice a day. It’s the bare minimum if you want to remove plaque and prevent tooth decay.
Straight Teeth Plays a Role, Too
If you thought straight teeth were just for aesthetics, having crooked or misaligned teeth can negatively impact your overall oral health. Having straight teeth improves your bite and allows you to keep up with daily oral hygiene practices. That you can scrub every point of the surface is only the tip of the iceberg.
Braces are a common way to straighten your teeth. But perhaps you want a treatment that won’t interfere with your day-to-day activities, including brushing your teeth. ClearCorrect, a global leader in clear-aligner orthodontics, utilises a revolutionary tri-layer ClearQuartz material, a flat trimline, and other customisable features to create an effective teeth-straightening solution.
ClearCorrect certified dental professionals also use ClearPilot, a digital planning tool that lets you visualise every step of your treatment, empowering you, the patient, to understand and review the process.
Want terrific oral health? Visit your dentist regularly to check for the early signs of tooth decay.
Australian Government National Health And Medical Research Council. (2017). Water Fluoridation and Human Health in Australia: Questions and Answers. Building a Healthy Australia.
Cavities. (n.d.). https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/fast-facts/cavities/index.html
Dental Caries (Tooth Decay) in Adults (Ages 20 to 64 Years). (n.d.). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
Tooth decay – Australian Dental Association. (n.d.). Teeth.org.au.
World Health Organization: WHO. (2023, March 14). Oral health.