The main culprit in tooth decay disease is acid. When food is frequently left on your teeth, bacteria that live in the mouth will thrive, which in turn produces acid. Given enough time, the acid produced by bacteria can seriously damage your enamel, causing tooth decay. Left unchecked, cavities can lead to infection and tooth loss, not to mention painful toothaches.
Are Cavities a Disease?
Though we don't tend to think of cavities or tooth decay as a disease, it is, in fact, an infectious disease, albeit a highly preventable one. The bacteria responsible for tooth decay are most often transmitted from mother to child in the first years of life. Mothers with high levels of this bacteria in their saliva are more likely to transmit the disease to their children by sharing a utensil, kissing or sharing saliva in any other way. Once bacteria is present in a child's mouth, the disease is chronic and unlikely to ever completely disappear.
However, even the presence of cavity-causing bacteria does not doom you to cavity-ridden teeth. A combination of good oral care and a good diet can keep your enamel strong.
Preventing Tooth Decay Disease
There are a number of simple things you can do to reduce your risk of cavities and reverse early tooth decay.
- Brush twice and floss once daily using proper flossing and brushing techniques.
- Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride to help strengthen enamel.
- Avoid eating sweet or starchy snacks between meals. The harmful bacteria in your mouth feed off these foods and thrive when they are present.
- Chew sugarless gum flavored with Xylitol to clean your teeth when you can't brush. It reduces the harmful bacteria in your mouth.
- Avoid beverages that can damage your enamel, such as soft drinks, sports drinks and acidic fruit juices.
- See your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
Taking care of your teeth on a daily basis can prevent cavities from forming and leave you with a healthy smile that will last a lifetime.