Tooth decay occurs when the sugars from food/drinks that we consume react with the bacteria found in plaque, causing an acid attack on the enamel (hard outer layer) of the teeth. The stickiness of plaque keeps the acid in close contact with the teeth. Repeated acid attacks break down the enamel and cavities are formed.
How to prevent cavities:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes using fluoridated toothpaste (especially at night before you go to bed). Brushing removes food debris and plaque.
- Floss your teeth at least once per day. Flossing removes the food debris and plaque that forms between the teeth that can’t be reached by brushing.
- Eat a healthy diet and limit your intake of sticky, sugary foods and drinks. The bacteria in plaque love sugary foods and sticky foods that take longer to dissolve.
- Be conscious of how often you are consuming food and drinks (other than water). Frequent snacking puts you at a higher risk for decay.
- Never put your child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup, unless it contains only water
- Visit your dentist and dental hygienist at least every six months. Regular professional scaling will help control the bacteria that lead to tooth decay.
As part of your regular dental visits your dentist will assess your teeth and gums and check for tooth decay. If decay is found your dentist will need to remove the decay and replace it with a filling. Left untreated, tooth decay can lead to many serious health conditions.