Tooth decay is a condition that is usually a result of plaque buildup on teeth. Plaque is the opaque bacteria (or biofilm) that sits on surfaces of teeth. The clear layer of biofilm builds up with more consumption of sugar. The end result of the bacteria breaking down these sugars is acid which in turn erodes into teeth and causes tooth decay.
Poor oral hygiene, the types of food and drinks and certain medications we consume are factors that influence plaque buildup and tooth decay.
Plaque if left for a long time interacts with saliva to form calculus (tartar). The hardened calculus harbours bacteria and prevents access from cleaning the undersurface of teeth. This leads to gum disease and potential loss of teeth.
Once the decay enters into the dentine layer of the tooth, it will need to be removed and restored. Usually anaesthetic is required at this stage, for the dentist to remove decay without feeling any sensitivity. The tooth then is restored with appropriate filling material.
Prevention is better than cure for some individuals who are more prone to plaque forming, such as patients with braces. Patient’s with braces struggle to reach certain areas in their mouth when cleaning hence we also recommend fluoride mouth rinse.
Saliva plays a vital role in maintaining good oral health.
Some at-home treatments and tips to improve good saliva include:
Rinse teeth after each meal/session (especially sweet food) to prevent plaque forming
Brush and floss twice a day
Finish all food and any drinks (eg. tea, coffee, wine) with water.