Dental decay (or cavities) is a disease affecting your mouth wherein a bacterial infection causes damage to the hard structures in your teeth.
Dental decay is caused when the carbohydrates (especially sugar) from the foods we eat is left on your teeth for any period of time. These sugars feed the decay causing bacteria in your mouth, which in turn allows them to grow, multiply and produce acid. This acid then attacks your teeth, causing mineral loss. The very early stages of mineral loss can be reversible; however continued acid attack leads to the formation of deeper cavities that require restoration.
If decay is not treated, it can reach the nerve tissue of the tooth. In these severe cases, you are often left with only two options; Extraction or Root Canal Treatment. This is why it is important to brush twice a day, floss, and have regular check ups by your dentist to ensure decay is eliminated in its earlier stages. It is recommended by the Australian Dental Association that you should come in every six months to have a routine check up and clean.
As a result of our changing dietary habits another problem that is becoming more prevalent is dental erosion. Dental erosion is the loss of tooth structure due to exposure to acids. Acids make your teeth ‘soft’.
The major sources of these acids include;
- Those found in many beverages, including all soft drinks, many fruit juices and many energy drinks (such as Gatorade)
- Digestive acids which can travel up your esophagus, usually during bouts of reflux or vomiting.
These acids can gradually erode enamel from teeth and lead to the loss of the tooth’s natural shape, or premature exposure of the dentine, which is the internal part of a tooth. Erosion also often results in increased tooth sensitivity, and can make your teeth more susceptible to getting cavities. As part of your regular dental examination your dentist will look for signs of erosion and other generalised wear.
If you are concerned about any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact our surgery for more information.