How do my teeth get tooth decay?
Cavities don’t just magically appear, they occur over time in a multi-step process that can be avoided with proper oral hygiene.
Tooth decay begins with damage to the enamel of your teeth
Decay start when bacteria in your mouth begins to damage the hard outer surface of your teeth; which is known as the enamel. This enamel damage often begins slowly at first, so you may not even notice it and there won’t be any noticeable pain.
Even so, damage is occurring and needs to be addressed before it is allowed to progress further.
As the damage/tooth decay gets into the tooth’s deeper layers it’s likely to cause significant damage, particularly holes/cavities.
Sugary food and drinks create cavity-causing bacteria
The process of cavity formation begins when plaque forms on your teeth. The plaque contains many different types of bacteria, some of which thrive when you consume sugary food and drinks. It’s the type of carbohydrates in these sugary items that ferment that the bacteria loves.
When you don’t maintain a regular habit of brushing and flossing the bacteria thrives. This causes a chemical reaction that produces acids that, along with saliva and particles of food, create the dental plaque that coats your teeth.
This dental plaque contains acids at first depletes the minerals in your tooth enamel to creating openings. Once there are soft area openings in your enamel the acid in the plaque attacks the tooth and you get a cavity.
The second stage of tooth decay is penetration into the dentin layer
Once the acids in dental plaque have found their way through the hard outer enamel layer of your teeth, they begin to penetrate the softer dentin which has even less resistance to the acids.
The dentin is the soft white tissue of your tooth. Beneath the dentin are the blood vessels and nerves, and finally down into the bone supporting the tooth.
Once the decay has reached into the dentin and is affecting the nerves you likely have significant discomfort and possibly a throbbing toothache. You may even get a tooth abscess, as your white blood cells try to combat the infection/tooth decay.
…and all of this can be minimised, prevented and avoided by simply brushing and flossing your teeth.