Assessing Your Risk for Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is one of the most common problems that has troubled humans for centuries. Today dentists recommend a personalized approach to prevent dental decay. The prevention strategy is based on the personal risk for dental diseases instead of one size fit all approach prevalent in the past.
By learning about the risks, proper steps can be taken to avoid dental diseases. Here you will find out how to profile your degree of risk of tooth decay and also what steps you can take to avoid dental infections.
Tooth Decay — Understanding the Risk Factors
Our teeth are composed of a covering of a mineralized crystalline structure known as enamel. The enamel is made of phosphate and calcium minerals.
Dental decay occurs when acidogenic (or acid causing) bacteria release acid that dissolve the enamel. The bacteria attach to whitish sticky deposit called plaque that is composed of a mixture of saliva and leftover food particles.
When the enamel dissolves, the roots of the teeth that are made of the softer dentin are exposed. This leads to a painful sensation on teeth, or toothache. When the roots dissolve, the tooth will decay and fall off.
A tooth decay can be detected in different ways.
- White spot lesions on teeth. The lesions can form in the middle or edge of the tooth.
- A hole in the teeth known as a dental cavity or dental carries.
- X-ray pictures and laser can also be used to detect hidden cavities.
What are the Risk Factors for Tooth Decay?
Certain people are more prone to developing tooth decay than others. The risk factors increase the risk of dental decay in individuals. Here are some of the risk factors for dental decay.
Dry Mouth — Saliva in the mouth neutralize the acid produced by bacteria. Dry mouth could lead to increased acidity in the mouth. This can greatly increase the risk of tooth decay.
Diet — Certain food items such as refined carbohydrate and sugar promote the formation of acid producing bacteria in the mouth. This also leads to an increased risk of tooth decay.
Lack of Dental Hygiene — People with poor dental hygiene are prone to develop tooth decay. Plaque forms when the teeth are not cleaned using brush and mouthwash. This creates a perfect breeding ground for acidogenic bacteria leading to tooth decay.
Medications — Some medications result in a dry mouth as a side effect. This results in reduced ability to neutralize the acidity in the mouth resulting in tooth decay.
Pits and Fissures — The shape of teeth differs in persons. In some persons, there are tine fissures and pits on the surface of the teeth. Deeper pits increase the risk of bacteria formation.
Acidic food — Acidic food items such as coke don’t contribute to bacteria formation. But they cause more damage to the tooth than the acidogenic food.
Medical conditions — Certain medical conditions such as Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), anorexia, and bulimia where a person vomits regularly increases the risk of tooth decay.
The best way to prevent tooth decay is regular dental checkup. You must get a dental checkup at least twice a year. Regular checkup will allow early intervention that can prevent serious damage to your teeth.