Tooth decay is a chronic problem among children in the United States, but children are not the only ones who suffer from decay. Tooth decay can strike any one at any age. A commonly held belief is that sugar causes tooth decay, but sugars are not the direct cause of decay. Sugars attract pathogenic bacteria which excrete acids that cause decay. The bacteria feed upon the sugars so it is important to reduce the amount of sugars in your oral cavity. That is done by practicing proper oral hygiene which consists of brushing and flossing regularly and visiting your dentist twice a year. In today’s blog we discuss how a tooth decays.
Steps in the Decaying Process
Step #1: Early Decay
Sugars from food and beverages remain on your teeth after eating and drinking. The sugars attract bacteria that feed on them and produce acids. The acids begin to attack and demineralize the tooth enamel (the thin, hard crystal-like layer that protects the dentin and pulp of the tooth) which causes a chalky white spot on the tooth. This is the first stage of tooth decay. At this point the decay can be reversed by the enzymes in your saliva, and the use of fluoride products. Both remineralize tooth enamel.
If demineralization continues and the surface of the enamel is broken, decay reaches into the dentin (the softer layer of tooth structure). Dentin cannot restore itself as enamel can so the decay needs to be removed and the cavity filled.
If the decay is left untreated it can spread through the dentin and into the pulp (the living tissue containing nerves and blood vessels). If the pulp becomes infected the tooth may need to be extracted.
About Your Lake Forest Dentist:
Aside from providing dependable family, general, and restorative dentistry services to our community, Dr. James Fondriest also holds respected academic appointments at the Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, FL, and the Spear Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, and he is an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of Florida Dental School. At Lake Forest Dental Arts, Dr. Fondriest combines his impressive array of experience with modern technology and caring, compassionate, knowledgeable staff, and we proudly serve patients from Chicago and all surrounding communities. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.