Unlike a tooth infection which already has caused an excessive amount of damage, tooth decay is the process by which bacteria erodes the teeth. There are many different stages of tooth decay, and as we age it is somewhat inevitable to avoid. However, through oral health routines and dental check-ups tooth decay can be managed to extremely minimal levels keeping teeth white and bright for years.
Tooth decay is damage that occurs when bacteria from foods and other sources combine to make acids that eat away tooth and gum tissue. Because we cannot avoid eating, we can only manage how decay develops within our mouth. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to cavities and gum disease. Disease and cavities can cause pain, infection, and eventually tooth loss. The deeper tooth decay is allowed to grow the more damage is caused. If significant damage is occurring, overall health may be in jeopardy as well - even life-threatening in some cases.
Bacteria is the primary cause for tooth decay. A clear, sticky substance called plaque forms on your teeth and gums as bacteria combine with the foods you eat. As plaque develops, it creates acids that decay the teeth and gums. Plaque can be removed daily by brushing and flossing. However, If plaque is left on the teeth for extended periods of time the acids that are housed by the plaque are able to erode more the of the tooth and gum tissue. Over time, these acids destroy enough tooth enamel and gum tissue, known as tooth decay.
Things that make you more likely to have tooth decay include:
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