What Causes Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay occurs when the bacteria in plaque accumulates on your teeth and causes them to deteriorate. Tooth decay is a serious dental problem that could lead to long-term damage to your teeth. Although there are a few steps that you can take to prevent tooth decay, you need to contact your dentist if you already see the signs. Read this blog to find out more tips on how to stop tooth decay. 

What is Tooth Decay? 

When you eat, your teeth come in contact with the acid and bacteria in your food. This bacteria can damage the enamel in your teeth, which ultimately weakens your teeth. When you don’t address tooth decay, it spreads to other parts of your teeth and causes more pain.  

What Are the Stages of Tooth Decay? 

Since tooth decay is a gradual process, there are a few steps before your tooth completely deteriorates. The National Institute of Medicine lists these stages for tooth decay: 

Stage 1

In the first stage of tooth decay, the enamel on your teeth starts to wear, and you will barely notice any tooth damage. Thankfully, stage 1 is reversible with the right treatment plan. 

Stage 2

Next, the tooth decay starts to move into the dentin. Dentin is a piece of soft tissue in your teeth that connects to other tissues and nerves in your mouth. You can still restore your teeth in stage 2, but time is running out. 

Stage 3

In Stage 3, the decay starts to spread to the pulp in your teeth. You might notice a lot of pain and swelling in your face. To fix this damage, your dentist needs to perform a root canal

What Are The Signs of Tooth Decay? 

According to the National Library of Medicine, you normally won’t notice any early signs of tooth decay. These are some of the symptoms of tooth decay that you want to keep an eye out for: 

  • Tooth pain
  • Tooth sensitivity when you eat certain foods, including hot food, cold food, and sweets
  • Cavities 
  • White or brown stains on a tooth
  • Infections

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should contact your dentist to schedule an appointment. 

How Can I Stop Tooth Decay? 

One of the best ways to stop tooth decay is to change your diet to avoid acidic foods. That way, if you forget some of the other preventative steps, such as brushing and flossing, then your teeth still have an extra defense. Try these steps to stop tooth decay: 

Avoid Certain Foods

Do you love candy bars and sodas? It might be time to reevaluate your diet. The University of Rochester lists certain foods that lead to cavities and tooth decay: 

  • Candies
  • Chips
  • Desserts
  • Sodas
  • Soft Bread

If you eat these foods often, you’ll need to add some extra brushing and flossing to counter the damage. 

Add These Foods to Your Diet

Fortunately, certain foods are naturally healthy for your teeth and your overall long-term health. The University of Illinois at Chicago recommends adding these foods to your daily diet: 

  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cheese
  • Kiwis
  • Oats
  • Nuts
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries

Brushing Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth at least twice a day, if not after every meal, can help fight plaque build-up. Be sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride so you can help strengthen your enamel. 

Flossing Your Teeth 

After you eat, you can get food stuck in your teeth that can cause damage. Flossing can help you pluck that food out and prevent potential cavities. 

Visit Your Dentist For A Check-Up

When you’re proactive about your dental care, you could potentially identify tooth decay and stop it from spreading to other teeth. Contact us today at Keowee Family Dentistry to see how we can help! 
No insurance? That’s okay! We offer a membership plan that can help support your dental care needs.