When you hear the phrase “rotting teeth,” you might imagine a mouth full of blackened teeth with green fumes rising from them, or a smile strafed with holes. The thought of decomposing teeth may seem like a distant nightmare, but the truth is, your enamel can actually decay, and this actually occurs quite regularly. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, “92% of adults have had dental caries, or tooth decay, in their permanent teeth.” At Dr. Cindy Flanagan‘s Houston dental practice, our team helps patients prevent and treat cavities every day. We can teach you more about rotting teeth so you can spot the signs and safeguard your smile. In the following blog, we help you learn to answer the question: “Are my teeth rotting?” and discuss how we can assist you with this.
The Reasons for Rot
In order to ward off rot, it’s important to understand the basics of decay. Many people are familiar with the concept of cavities without realizing how they form. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research explains this phenomenon with a “tug of war” metaphor: “On one team are dental plaque—a sticky, colorless film of bacteria—plus foods and drinks that contain sugar or starch…Whenever we eat or drink something that contains sugar or starch, the bacteria use them to produce acids. These acids begin to eat away at the tooth’s hard outer surface, or enamel.” In addition to the acids produced by bacteria, acidic foods and beverages can wear down your enamel. As the tooth surface decays, tiny holes form in it, thus the name “cavities.”
How to Avoid Decay
So, now that you understand what it really means for teeth to rot, but how can you circumvent cavities? Our tips for preventing decay include:
· Practicing proper oral hygiene. Cleaning harmful plaque and acids off of your enamel can help to stop cavities from forming. The American Dental Association recommends that those who want to avoid decay “brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste” and “clean between [the] teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaner.”
· Maintaining a healthy diet. In addition to directly wearing down your enamel, what you eat and drink can influence plaque formation. Eating a balanced diet with sufficient fruits, vegetables, and proteins (and not too heavy on starches and sugars) can help you keep your enamel healthy. The frequency with which you eat and drink also impacts your enamel—stay away from snacking to avoid constantly exposing your teeth to starches, sugars, and acids.
· Attending biannual preventive care appointments. You should come in for a dental examination and professional cleaning at least twice per year. During these appointments, Dr. Flanagan will assess your oral health, discuss your hygiene habits, demonstrate proper cleaning techniques, diagnose any existing problems, and make suggestions to help you protect your teeth against decay.
· Staying hydrated. Drinking enough water can be key in preventing caries. Water can directly rinse away the particulate matter that forms plaque. In addition, staying hydrated improves your salivary flow. Your spit naturally contains enzymes that fight cavities.
These are just a few of the ways you can fend off cavities. Dr. Flanagan can provide further suggestions at your next appointment.
If, like 9 out of 10 Americans, you end up with a rotted tooth, Dr. Flanagan and our team can assist you. We can clean out the decayed portion of the tooth and place a tooth colored filling to restore it. In more advanced cases, we can also treat larger cavities with dental crowns.
Are Your Teeth Rotting?
If you believe you may be suffering from decay, or simply want to keep cavities away, contact our Houston dental practice today! Dr. Flanagan and our team look forward to assisting you.