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What is Tooth Decay and What Else Can You Do?

Updated on July 12, 2011

We may all hate going to the dentist. It may be an aversion to people putting drills in our mouths, or it may just be that we all fear the expense. I know that I personally fear both. However, the number one reason that we all have to go to the dentist is because of tooth decay. So what is tooth decay, what causes it, and how can we all prevent it?

Tooth decay can be reduced by using a number of simple techniques.

Tooth decay is the structural damage caused to our teeth. Teeth are comprised of a hard outer layer, called enamel, an inner layer, called dentin, and the innermost structure called the pulp chamber. Tooth decay is the result of bacteria eating away at the enamel of your teeth. This is caused by sugars being fermented and turned into an acid in your mouth. The acids change the pH balance in your mouth. When the pH level drops below 5.5 in your mouth, the acids start breaking down your teeth faster than they can regenerate themselves. Since your teeth are constantly in a cycle of regeneration, you need to maintain a healthy pH balance and reduce the amount of harmful sugars and bacteria in your mouth.

Brushing your teeth is always the best way to reduce the chances of getting cavities. Brushing not only cleans away the sugars, but the fluoride in the toothpaste also helps rebuild your enamel. Flossing is almost more important. When you floss your teeth, you are actually cutting down into the gums around the teeth a little, which cleans out the bacteria and sugars that have become trapped in the gum line. If you do not floss regularly, these areas that cannot be reached with your toothbrush will compromise all of your dental health regiment.


So, besides brushing your teeth after meals what else can be done? Well, simply rinsing your mouth out with water after any sugary meals or snacks can actually provide significant help. Rinsing your mouth reduces the amount of sugars left behind and also rinses away the bacteria that transforms the sugars into acid. Rinsing with a fluoride rinse also provides an extra benefit to your teeth, though it is minimal. Considering that most tap water contains almost as much fluoride as the expensive rinses, it is sometimes a hard sell to spend the extra cash.

Make sure to also rinse your mouth first thing in the morning to get rid of all of the bacterial and acids that have been building up in your mouth overnight. Also, see your dentist regularly to make sure that any real damage that has been done is reversed quickly. You may also want to review other health products to determine the best hygiene products for you and your family.

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