Everything You Need To Know About the Process of Tooth Decay

What is Inside Your Mouth?

To fully understand the process of tooth decay, it is crucial to first get to know what can be found naturally in your mouth. Below are several elements that you will find in your mouth.

1. Saliva

Your teeth and mouth are continuously bathed in saliva. As human beings, we do not think about our spit. Saliva does a remarkable job in maintaining our oral health. Saliva maintains your teeth and keeps other parts of the mouth moist and helps get rid of any food remnants in your mouth. Our saliva has several minerals which strengthen our teeth and also has buffering agents which significantly lower the acidity in our mouths that is usually the main cause of tooth decay. It also protects us from certain bacteria and viruses.

2. Plaque 

This refers to the gooey and soft substance which sticks to our teeth in the same manner jam will stick to a serving spoon.

Just like the way lime clings to the swimming pool’s bottom, plaque is a kind of bio-film. This substance has numerous closely packed bacteria, food bits, and other components that are extracted from the saliva. In this same mix, you will also find white blood cells and bacterial byproducts. The plaque will grow when bacteria attaches itself to your teeth and start to grow in number. The plaque will begin forming immediately after you brush your teeth. After approximately one hour, there will be enough of it to measure. With time, it gets thicker and after about six hours, it teams up with bacteria and begins causing gum (periodontal) disease and cavities.

3. Calculus

In the case where the plaque is not eliminated in time, it will start absorbing saliva’s minerals. The minerals absorbed will create crystals and they then harden and become calculus. After that, the new plaque will start forming on the top of the current calculus. The new layer will also get harder.

4. Bacteria

There are numerous kinds of bacteria in a human being’s mouth. Several bacteria in our mouth are good because they assist in controlling bacteria that is destructive. In the case of tooth decay, Streptococcus Lactobacilli and mutans are the species of bacteria that result in tooth damage.

How Tooth Decay Occurs

The bacteria which is found in the mouth requires food to survive and grow in number. When you consume foods that are sugary or starchy, for example, bread, the bacteria will utilize these foods as its own food. The bacteria will thereafter produce acid which can soften your tooth enamel. We are not referring to just ice cream and candy, all carbohydrate foods will ultimately break down into simple sugars that can be used by these bacteria. Some carbohydrates start getting digested in the mouth. These foods are referred to as fermentable carbohydrates. They comprise some of the most common sugary foods like candy, soft drinks, cakes, and cookies. They also include other foods such as breakfast cereals, potato chips, bananas, crackers, and pretzels.

The bacteria that is found in your mouth will convert the sugar in these type of foods into acids. The acids will then be used in dissolving the mineral crystals in your teeth. Therefore, the more frequently you consume them in a day, the more risks you expose your teeth to. The acid attacks can easily result in tooth decay, or what is commonly referred to as dental cavities or carries. The acids will start by dissolving phosphate and calcium crystals inside your tooth. After a period of time, a white spot will crop up on your enamel in the area that has weakened. The teeth will start losing minerals, though the surface will still remain smooth. The tooth can easily be repaired when it is at this stage with the use of minerals (phosphate and calcium), proteins, and fluoride. The saliva can also help in reducing your acidity levels in the mouth and prevent the further development of bacteria in your mouth.

As soon as the decay succeeds in breaking through your enamel and result in a cavity, the damage done cannot be reversed. Your dentist will have to clean out your cavity to get rid of the harmful bacteria and fill it. In case the cavity is left untreated, it will only worsen the situation. A small cavity can wreak havoc and destroy your tooth down to the nerve or pulp. That is the reason why it is imperative to get regular teeth cleanings and treat any carries immediately when they start forming before, they break through your enamel and form a cavity.

For more information, contact one of our Pearl Dentistry offices located in Uptown Charlotte or schedule an appointment today.