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Risk Factors for Tooth Decay from a Family Dentist
A family dentist spends a great deal of their time treating tooth decay. It is one of the most common dental problems in the U.S., and it can lead to the total loss of a tooth if left untreated. Tooth decay is often treated with filings in its early stages, while the more advanced stages might require a root canal.
A family dentist explains risk factors for tooth decay
There are a variety of things that can increase a person's risk of developing tooth decay. Some of the more common ones include:
1. Poor oral hygiene
Not taking proper care of the teeth and gums leads to tooth decay and gum disease. Food particles are left on teeth after meals and oral bacteria convert them to acids that break down tooth enamel. When a person has poor oral hygiene, these acids get to stay on teeth for extended periods, leading to the formation of small holes called cavities.
Good oral hygiene includes brushing at least two times each day and flossing once daily. Patients should aim to brush right before going to bed since teeth are vulnerable to tooth decay during sleep due to decreased saliva production. Our family dentist also recommends flossing once each day. This will keep the spaces between teeth free of plaque and bacteria.
2. Excessive sugar consumption
Sugar is one of the most acidic things that people consume and it eats away at enamel. To make things even worse, oral bacteria thrive on sugary environments, creating more acids of their own. Sugar also has a sticky constitency, so it tends to hold on to tooth surfaces for longer periods of time than other foods.
The combination of all these things makes sugar very bad for the teeth. Patients should limit their intake of sugary substances to protect against tooth decay. They should also rinse their mouth with water after consuming anything that is rich in sugar.
3. Fluoride deficiency
Fluoride is essential for healthy teeth. It forms a barrier that protects, strengthens and re-mineralizes tooth enamel. Dentists recommend using a toothpaste that contains fluoride to protect teeth against cavities. Fluoridated water also helps to supply the body with fluoride.
People with gastrointestinal issues that lead to the contents of their stomach being periodically regurgitated into their mouth are more susceptible to tooth decay. The acids in the stomach are quite corrosive and getting them on tooth surfaces regularly will lead to damaged enamel. Patients with gastrointestinal issues should have their condition addressed by a doctor.
5. Frequent snacking
Constantly snacking or sipping on sweet things is bad for your teeth. It makes it easier for plaque and acids to build up in the mouth. Keep snacking to a minimum and switch out sugary drinks with water instead.
Looking for a family dentist?
Treatments like teeth cleanings, fluoride treatments and dental sealants can help to protect your teeth against decay. Call or visit our Saratoga Springs clinic to learn more about how to keep your teeth decay-free.
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