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Tooth Decay

Patient holding side of face in painOur daily routines and our saliva are constantly warding off harmful bacteria and tooth decay. Our mouths are constantly exposed to decay-causing bacteria through chewing food, engaging in conversation, and even breathing, making our teeth highly vulnerable. During routine dental cleaning, your dentist can discuss tips and tools to help you combat tooth decay. If you are experiencing tooth decay, however, our team at Dallas Oral Surgery Associates can remove decay and restore the affected tooth.

Tooth decay is the breakdown or destruction of a tooth. There is plenty of misinformation surrounding tooth decay; some think tooth decay in children is normal, and some even think tooth decay is rare in adults. In reality, children have been increasingly reaching adulthood without having a cavity due to improvements in dental education and preventative care. Additionally, patients may develop and implement better oral hygiene care into adulthood, leading to a reduction in tooth decay as they get older.

Tooth decay starts with plaque. Plaque is a naturally-occurring substance and is constantly being created by our mouths. It is a sticky, yellow substance that is created by saliva blending with substances in our mouth, including food debris and bacteria. Some plaque is naturally swallowed, while the rest lands on the surface of the teeth, between our teeth, and along the gumline. If food debris containing sugar is present in the mouth, bacteria will feed on the sugar and produce an acid that causes cavities and decay to our teeth. This decay is also known as caries.

This acid will first erode the enamel of our teeth, creating a hole in the enamel. This hole allows bacteria to enter the layers of our teeth. Sometimes, this bacteria will also work its way below the gumline, attacking the gum tissue and eventually attacking the jawbone. This process can cause patients to have tooth decay or gum disease. If untreated, this bacteria can infect the pulp of the tooth and potentially cause the tooth to die.

How Can I Prevent Tooth Decay?

There are a few ways to combat and address decay-causing bacteria. Generally, we recommend:
•  Daily Brushing and Flossing: This is by and large the most important practice in your daily routine. Brushing and flossing removes plaque, bacteria, and debris that is either on the surface of the teeth or hard to reach. Our team can demonstrate ideal brushing and flossing techniques if needed.
•  Saliva Production: Saliva naturally cleans the mouth and is crucial to adequate oral health. Some patients with certain medical issues, medications, or other circumstances may have decreased saliva production. If this is a challenge for you, there are ways we can help increase saliva production.
•  Drink Water: Drinking water is great for both your oral and overall health. It can’t replace how saliva cleans your mouth, but it does help wash away bacteria and the debris it feeds on.
•  Preventative Care: Whether it is provided by your surgeon or your dentist, fluoride and dental sealants can make a huge difference in maintaining your oral health.

Dental hygiene can look different for everyone, and our clinical team is happy to provide oral hygiene tips that are specific to your needs.

To find out more about protecting your teeth from tooth decay, give us a call at 214-363-9946.

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