Tooth decay occurs when sticky plaque attracts excess bacterial growth in the mouth, eroding tooth enamel and forming cavities, spreading tooth rot. Certain habits do contribute to tooth decay. Here are ten top habits to consider:
Missing dental check-ups
Not attending regular six-monthly dental check-ups means oral conditions and diseases may go untreated before worsening to an emergency. An unhealthy mouth is vulnerable to bacterial growth that causes tooth decay. For example, inflamed gums or gingivitis may be the start of gum disease where bacteria may damage gum tissue and weaken tooth structure to decay.
Not having teeth periodically scaled and polished
When we clean our teeth daily, we may not always be able to remove food debris and excess plaque from tooth grooves and hard-to-reach places in the mouth. Visiting a dental hygienist for scheduled teeth scaling and polishing helps to keep the mouth totally clean and less prone to tooth decay.
Ignoring regular oral hygiene practice
Oral hygiene regimens may sometimes slip after nights out or when working long hours. If food and plaque is not cleaned away frequently on daily basis, the teeth become coated and sticky attracting infection-causing bacteria that cause cavities and tooth rot. Brushing teeth and flossing after meals, before bed and on waking keeps the mouth fresh and healthier. Not using proper oral hygiene technique may similarly encourage tooth decay due to oral trauma that may arise.
Leaving a dental infection or trauma untreated
Suffering with a sore tooth or part of the mouth that feels tender and not seeking immediate dental care puts you at higher risk of tooth decay and tooth loss. Where initially only one tooth or a gum part may be affected, an infection may spread and affect more teeth and gums tissue.
Unhealthy diet and lifestyle
A balanced and varied diet with plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit and water is more likely to promote good oral and overall health. Consuming foods high in sugar and acid content, such as cakes, sweets and fizzy drinks is known to raise risk of tooth decay and disease. Excess coffee, tea and red wine contributes to stained teeth and the stain coating may attract bacterial growth, harmful to dental structures.
Smoking or chewing tobacco products
Tooth decay may arise from smoking and tobacco chewing as tar residue sticks to the teeth, tongue and mouth structures attracting excess plaque and decay-causing bacteria. The Smoking contributes to bad breath, discolours teeth and is a leading cause of oral cancer.
Teeth grinding or bruxism
Individuals who grind their teeth by day and/or night are more likely to have bruxism or a bite disorder. Teeth grinding wears down tooth structure, and as this happens, cavities form or teeth fracture attracting bacterial colonisation and tooth decay.
Avoiding replacing missing teeth
Leaving missing tooth gaps in the mouth affects how teeth function and bite together. Orthodontic conditions including tooth decay and oral trauma may arise if missing teeth are not replaced with artificial teeth such as crowns, bridges, dentures and dental implants.
Unclean dental devices
When orthodontic braces or dentures are prescribed for treatment, the individual is informed on how best to care for their braces system or dentures. Braces may need to be gently brushed, as may dentures that are usually soaked overnight to remove plaque residue. If left unclean, dental devices house bacteria that cause tooth decay.
Broken or ill-maintained dental appliances
Not bothering to have dental devices repaired or properly maintained may lead to incorrect wear and damage to oral structures. Oral trauma or damage to teeth and gums attracts bacterial and plaque growth that erodes tooth enamel, decaying dental structures.
‘Richard is a Manchester based writer focusing on health and dental care. Currently he is working with the experts at www.britishdentistry.org.uk to educate people on natural ways to promote tooth kindness’
Photo courtesy of Vancouver Bites (CC @ flickr.com)