9 months ago

What causes tooth decay?

Photo: Collected
Photo: Collected

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People of all ages are susceptible to tooth decay, also known as oral caries or cavities. It happens when acids generated by oral bacteria damage the tooth's hard outer covering, known as the enamel. Tooth decay can result in pain, infection, and even tooth loss if not addressed. 

Poor oral hygiene 

Poor oral hygiene is the most frequent source of tooth decay. Food particles and bacteria can build up on your teeth if you don't brush and floss regularly, resulting in plaque development. The bacteria in plaque gradually create acids that can eat away at your tooth enamel and result in cavities.

Sugary and acidic foods and drinks 

"A common cause of tooth decay is consuming sugary and acidic foods and drinks. When you eat or drink sugary or acidic substances, the bacteria in your mouth produce more acid, damaging your tooth enamel. Acidic foods and drinks, such as citrus fruits and soda, can also erode your enamel and lead to cavities," Dr Nirali Patel, Smile Design Expert and Oral Implantologist FICOI, USA, shared with the Financial Express. 

Dry mouth 

Saliva prevents tooth decay by balancing acids, washing away food particles and germs, and neutralising acids. Your chance of developing tooth decay may rise if you experience dry mouth, whether due to medication, health issues, or ageing.


Your inherited traits may also influence your risk of getting tooth decay. Due to the composition of his\hee teeth or his\her saliva, some people may be more susceptible to cavities.

Gum recession and age

"When your gums recede, the roots of your teeth become exposed, which can increase your risk of tooth decay. The roots of your teeth are not covered by enamel and are more vulnerable to decay," Dr Nirali said. 

Lack of fluoride 

The mineral fluoride can strengthen your dental enamel and increase its resistance to decay. Your risk of tooth decay may rise if you don't consume enough fluoride through your water supply or dental products.

Grinding your teeth

If you grind your teeth, you will be more susceptible to tooth decay as the action strips away the outer layer of the enamel. It is typical for tooth grinders not to know they are doing it, as this usually happens when asleep or stressed. 

"To prevent this, wear a night guard, and if you grind your teeth due to stress, try some relieving exercises like yoga or meditation," Dr Nirali suggested. 

Misaligned teeth

According to Dr Nirali, any overlapping or misaligned teeth create hard-to-reach crevices where tooth decay can expand. A decent oral hygiene regimen would not be sufficient to prevent corrosion, but there is a remedy. 

Ask your doctor if you should get a dental sealant. This will stop an acid/bacteria coating from developing around your teeth. There is another choice, but it might not be an option based on how bad your condition is. Minor surgery is always an option to repair misaligned or overlapping teeth.

Preventing tooth decay

Fortunately, there are numerous techniques for stopping dental decay. A common remedy is using fluoride toothpaste twice daily to clean your teeth. To eliminate germs and food particles from between your teeth, floss daily. Limit your intake of meals and beverages that are high in sugar and acid. 

Drink plenty of water to keep your tongue hydrated and flush out food debris. After meals, chew sugar-free gum to increase saliva production. Go for frequent checkups and cleanings at the dentist.

Tooth decay is a common dental problem that can be caused by poor oral hygiene, sugary and acidic foods and drinks, dry mouth, genetics, gum recession, and lack of fluoride. By practising good oral hygiene and making healthy lifestyle choices, you can reduce your risk of tooth decay and maintain a healthy smile, advised Dr Nirali.

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