Preventing decay from forming is always the most ideal option. Decay starts when one of two things happen
Poor oral hygiene: when food or sugary beverages are not removed from surfaces of the tooth bacteria that eat sugar set up shop. As they eat the sugar that has been left they produce an acid that eats away at the tooth, left long enough a hole eventually forms – this is a cavity.
Diet- decay does not always form from a poor diet, some things that are very healthy for the rest of your body can be hazardous to your teeth. For example milk, everyone knows milk does the body good, but if you sip on milk all day long the sugar in milk (lactose) can totally destroy your teeth. We see this with small children who sleep with their bottles- "baby bottle tooth decay".
Here's how you get cavities
Sugar in food and beverages combines with bacteria in your mouth to form acid.
Diet or "sugar-personal" pop contains its own acid.
Acid in soft drinks, whether they contain sugar or not, is the primary cause of weakening tooth enamel.
The acid attacks your teeth. Each acid attack lasts about 20 minutes.
The acid attack starts over again with every sip.
Ongoing acid attacks weaken your tooth enamel.
Bacteria in your mouth cause cavities when tooth enamel is damaged.
How to reduce decay
If you have a receding gum line, acid does more damage below the gum line than above it – especially for adults.
Drink soft drinks in moderation.
Don't sip for extended periods of time. Ongoing sipping prolongs sugar and acid attacks on your teeth.
Use a straw to keep the sugar away from your teeth.
After drinking, swish your mouth out with water to dilute the sugar.
Never drink pop or juice before bedtime. The liquid pools in your mouth and coats your tongue and teeth with sugar and acid.
Read labels. Regular pop is high in sugar. And diet or "sugar-personal" pop is high in acid. Sugar and acid are bad for your teeth.
Drink water instead of pop. It has no sugar, no acid and no calories.
Use a toothpaste with fluoride in it or a prescription strength fluoride
Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once
Get regular checkups and cleanings to remove bacteria
Talk to your dental care professional to make sure that other factors aren't contributing to your susceptibility to decay such as dry mouth often caused by medications or digestive problems such as acid reflux.
Acid* Low = Bad
Sugar per 12 oz. Serving
Barq's Root Beer
Propel Fitness Water
Sobe Energy Citrus
Protecting your teeth:
Fluoride is one option that many patients choose to use, when a professional or home application is used the fluoride incorporates into weakened tooth structure to help heal the damaged area. Sealants are protective coatings that can be applied to the surface of the tooth reducing the likely hood of decay .
Early Detection of Decay
Detecting decay early means that often times you can intervene with a small filling, making the appointment more enjoyable, faster and less expensive. New technology such as the Kavo Diagnodent allows dentists to detect decay at its earliest stage. Digital x rays have also improved our diagnostic abilities.