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Tooth decay is a common problem that many adult dental patients face each day. It is caused by plaque that forms on your teeth and can destroy your tooth enamel, causing cavities. Adults are just as susceptible to this as children are, but adults who experience tooth decay can have more serious consequences, such as gum disease and tooth rot. For adults struggling with tooth decay, there are options to save your teeth and improve your oral health at the same time. Find out what you can do to get rid of your tooth decay and how to protect your teeth with these tips!


Tooth Decay: What Is It?

Our teeth are amazing tools for our mouth to help us chew, eat and speak. But just like any other part of the body, our teeth can develop debilitating disease that can affect the function and overall health of a tooth. Tooth decay is one of the more common signs of dental disease seen in adults, and it destroys your enamel, which is the hard outer layer of a tooth. Tooth decay begins as plaque (a sticky film of bacteria) forms on your teeth. Whenever you eat or drink sugary foods, the bacteria in plaque produces acid that attack your tooth enamel and wear it down. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids constantly in contact with your teeth, which eventually breaks down enamel. Once this occurs, cavities quickly begin forming. A cavity is basically a hole in the tooth that forms from the loss of mineral in the enamel, and they can grow quickly until the entire tooth is destroyed.


Tooth decay develops from a variety of sources, but the most prominent cause of tooth decay is eating sugary, sticky foods and beverages. The more sugar that is consumed, the more acid that is produced on your teeth, which will soften enamel. Foods that contain carbohydrates also contribute to tooth decay whenever they get trapped between teeth and aren’t properly cleaned out through brushing and flossing. Even medical problems, such as bulimia, can lead to cavities as the teeth come in contact with stomach acid during frequent vomiting. It is important to know what tooth decay is and how it forms so that you can learn how to properly care for and protect your teeth to avoid decay from developing in the first place.


Signs of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay doesn’t just appear out of nowhere; it’s a slow process that develops over time. As tooth decay progresses, cavity symptoms will appear. As soon as you begin to feel some of the following symptoms, make sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Look out for the following cavity symptoms that patients typically experience:


  • Pain – A toothache is one of the most common cavity symptoms.
  • Pus – One of the more serious symptoms of a cavity is pus around the tooth.
  • Pits – A noticeable hole or pit in a tooth is a sign of a cavity. Some pits can only be seen on X-rays, though.
  • Pressure – Increased tooth sensitivity and pain can indicate a cavity.


Tooth decay can also form in adults around the edges of a dental filling. Older adults typically have more fillings than younger generations due to the lack of fluoride in their diets as they were growing up and modern preventative care. As fillings weaken due to old age, they can fracture around the edges and allow bacteria to accumulate within the crevices. As acid develops, tooth decay will most likely follow, as well. So as an older adult, a good rule of thumb to check for tooth decay is to look around any/all teeth that have a filling to monitor any crack development. These fillings can be reviewed by a dentist who can ascertain the health of your dental filling.


How To Prevent Tooth Decay

Whether you have a cavity or not, the best thing you can do is do all you can to prevent further tooth decay from growing. Brushing your teeth is one of the most important practices that every person should develop early on in their life. Choosing a toothbrush that allows you to reach every tooth surface in your mouth and can stimulate your gums should be your go-to choice. Use a toothpaste that is recommended by the American Dental Association, contains fluoride and can protect you against gingivitis, plaque, sensitivity, whitening, bad breath and cavities. If your toothpaste can do all that, you are good to go!


Daily flossing your teeth is the next step in your oral health routine. Floss can reach tight spaces where food particles can get stuck and cause a cavity, so make sure that you are flossing between each tooth every day. Using a mouthwash to conclude your routine will kill bacteria that causes plaque and gingivitis while keeping your breath fresh. Make sure that you’re eating nutritious and balanced meals to keep sugar from building up on your teeth, and limit snacking. These tips will protect your teeth from most tooth decay and will give your teeth the best opportunity to stay strong and healthy.


Begin Your Oral Health Journey Now

Your oral health might be good now, but it could always be better. By scheduling a dental examination with Stonebrook Family Dental, we can ensure that your oral health needs will be addressed and that you can begin your journey to a beautiful smile on the right foot. A dental checkup will include a thorough cleaning of your teeth, gums and mouth, to look for any signs of tooth decay and give your teeth a nice polish. If you are experiencing any symptoms of tooth decay or are in need of a dental checkup, call our office today at (303) 872-7907 for a consultation. Our dedicated staff is ready to help you and your family receive the beautiful smiles that you deserve!


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