Tooth decay (or dental caries) may occur when the acids in plaque attack your teeth. Plaque is the sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms on everyone’s teeth every day. After you eat, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack the tooth enamel. After repeated acid attacks, the enamel can break down and a cavity may form. Children are the most cavity-prone, but adults of all ages can be affected too. In fact, two out of three cavities in people over age 50 are a result of decay around existing fillings. Most people over 60 have root caries as a result of gum diseases.
To remove plaque before it leads to tooth decay, children and cavity-prone adults should try to clean their teeth after every meal and snack. A thorough job of brushing removes plaque from the inner, outer and chewing surfaces of your teeth. When you floss, you’ll remove plaque from between teeth and under your gumline where your toothbrush can’t reach.
Food with sugar and starches, especially those that stick to your teeth, can cause plaque acids to develop and begin the process of tooth decay. A well balanced diet helps maintain a healthy body, and that includesyour teeth, jaw bone and mouth.
Fluoride is a beneficial natural mineral that safely strengthens tooth enamel and helps prevent decay. In communities where fluoride has been added to the drinking water, the children have up to 65% fewer cavities. If your water doesn’t contain enough fluoride, your dentist may prescribe daily supplements, such as tablets or drops, for your children. For extra protection, you and your family should use dental care products containing fluoride including fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse.
The Bearable Dentistry dentists and hygienists recommend fluoride for their patients. Be sure to ask them about fluoride if you have questions or concerns.
Cavities used to be an accepted fact of life. But with the fluoride found in some drinking water, and offered in supplements, toothpaste and rinse, there’s a greater chance than ever to avoid them. Regular dental visits, sufficient fluoride, and proper brushing, flossing and rinsing all lead to healthy, cavity-free teeth.