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The Demon Tooth Decay

Cavities, the result of tooth decay, can occur to anyone who has teeth. Ninety percent of Americans have a least one cavity in their mouth, and two-thirds of America’s population had their first cavity by the time they reached five years of age.

Have you ever heard the proverb, “Give a problem three days and it will resolve itself?” One dramatic exception is tooth decay.

Natural bacteria live in the mouth on the surface of the teeth. The bacteria feed on carbohydrate and sugar debris, creating an acid called plaque. Plaque eats at tooth enamel, leaving weak spots that rot away and eventually lead to painful gum disease. Saliva will naturally wash away the food particles and resulting bacteria and plaque, but frequent snacking keeps the saliva from during its job effectively. The longer the plaque remains on the surface of the teeth, the harder it becomes and the faster deterioration occurs.

Chances are you’ve experienced the early warning sign of a cavity. Ever had a tooth react painfully to hot or cold food, or to sweets? Ever have a tooth just start to ache all of the time. If you went to a dentist, he took an x-ray of your teeth and decay showed up as dark spots. He then examined all of your teeth, prodding them with a special dental tool as he looked for weak spots in the enamel.  

When a dentist detects tooth decay, he eliminates it using a special drill. He then fills the resulting cavity with either a metal amalgam or a tooth-colored composite resin. If the rot extended under the gumline and affected the roots and nerves of the tooth, the dentist may decide a root canal is necessary to save the tooth.

Prevention is the best and least expensive way to fight tooth decay. Supplementation of fluoride from an early age is very important. A pediatrician can write a prescription for a daily multi-vitamin with fluoride for young babies. Many communities add fluoride to their tap water. Fluoride helps reduce decay by hardening the surface of teeth.

Often overlooked in the fight against tooth decay is vitamin and mineral intake, but they are extremely important to the health of your mouth. Vitamin B6 controls bacteria, increasing the good and killing the bad. Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant, which keeps gums healthy.

Brushing and flossing is another way to fight tooth decay. Removing food particles and bacteria every time after you eat prevents plaque from forming. There are even mouth rinses that kill the bacteria and help eliminate bad breath. Many people don’t realize that brushing the tongue is as necessary as brushing the teeth. If you don’t brush your tongue along with your teeth, the bacteria on your tongue jump right over to your cleaned teeth. A regular toothbrush will clean your tongue but the bristles are a little too soft to do the best job. A tongue brush has stronger bristles. Alternatively, you can purchase a tongue scraper. It’s a hard plastic devise with a rounded end that is scraped over the tongue’s surface.

Twice a year checkups with the dentist are also an essential part of preventing tooth decay. The dental hygienist can deep clean areas of your mouth that are hard for you to reach. She can also scrape off tartar you haven’t been able to keep from building on your teeth.

Tooth decay is one problem that will not go away on its own, whether you wait three days or a hundred. Once tooth decay has startedFeature Articles, you can only stop it by a trip to your dentist.

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