What Do You Know About Tooth Decay and Oral Health?
Tooth decay is the number one cause of tooth loss. Most of us know that brushing and flossing are essential in the battle against tooth decay. Still, few of us realize our daily activities’ dramatic effect on our teeth. Read on to learn how simple everyday activities can contribute to tooth decay and negatively impact our oral health.
- If you drink three or more sodas a day, you will have 62% more tooth decay than someone who drinks less soda. Sodas with a high acid level, particularly phosphoric and citric acids, are the worst offenders, causing even more damage than those with high sugar levels. Drinking water instead of soda decreases the risk of tooth decay dramatically.
If you don’t want to give up soda entirely, club soda and root beer are two options that do less damage. The worst soft drinks for your teeth include Coke and RC Cola. Running a close second place for acidity are cherry-flavored colas, including Dr. Pepper. Clear sodas like 7-Up and Sprite come in third. Diet sodas might seem like good alternatives, but while low in sugar, they are still high in acid.
- There are over 300 species of bacteria in plaque, the thin, sticky coating that builds up on our teeth daily. Using an anti-bacterial rinse cuts down on the harmful bacteria on your teeth. You can purchase over-the-counter dental rinses, or your dentist may prescribe a prescription strength rinse if needed.
- To use an anti-bacterial mouthwash, floss and brush your teeth first. Rinse with two teaspoons of your oral rinse, swishing around your mouth for one minute, then spit out. Do this twice a day if using an OTC mouth rinse. When purchasing, look for the ADA seal of approval. When using a prescription antibacterial rinse, follow the label directions carefully.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 26% of adults in the United States have untreated tooth decay. Some factors that may affect your chances of developing tooth decay include whether you smoke, your diet, and genetic predisposition. Routine dental exams and professional dental cleanings help reduce the risks posed by these factors. Identifying and treating decay before it progresses is essential, so don’t wait until you experience pain to see the dentist.
- Cavities are one of the most common dental problems in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20% of children between 5-11 years old have tooth decay. Cavities, also known as caries or tooth decay, are common among children. Left untreated, your child can experience pain and infection. Children don’t understand proper oral health and how to care for their teeth without instruction and supervision. Help your child properly floss daily and brush twice a day to minimize the chance they develop tooth decay. Twice yearly professional cleanings are a must. During their visits to the dentist, be sure and ask about dental sealants, which protect the teeth in areas that are hard to reach with a toothbrush.
- We are serious underachievers when it comes to brushing our teeth. We should brush our teeth at least 2-3 minutes twice a day, but most people brush for 70 seconds or less. Try playing your favorite song on your phone and brush the entire time your music is playing to make sure you are getting the job done properly.
A few 2-minute songs for brushing your teeth include:
- The Beatles, “And Your Bird Can Sing”
- The Clash, “White Riot”
- Eddie Cochran, “Summertime Blues”
- Gorillaz, “Don’t Get Lost in Heaven”
- The Police, “Miss Gradenko”
- Elvis Presley, “All Shook Up”
- Ray Charles, “Hit The Road Jack”
- Simon & Garfunkel, “Song for the Asking”
- Louis Armstrong, “What a Wonderful World”
- Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is often connected to other health conditions. For example, if you have diabetes, you have a 95% chance of also having some form of periodontal disease. Diabetes may restrict blood flow to gums and teeth. Using fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and seeing the dentist regularly is imperative as is working with a physician to control blood sugar levels as much as possible.
- Pregnancy can lead to dental problems in some women, including gum disease and tooth decay. During pregnancy, hormones affect the gums and teeth. Brushingtwice a day with fluoride toothpaste and visiting your dentist will help keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible during pregnancy.
- A full complement of teeth is 32 if you retained your wisdom teeth, 28 if they were removed due to overcrowding or impaction.
- Enamel is the strongest material in the body – even more robust than bone! This is a good thing because we put our teeth through a lot of wear and tear when we are eating, chewing, and grinding foods, and our teeth cannot heal themselves once they develop a cavity. Unfortunately, the enamel is thin, so we must take diligent care of our teeth.
Orthotics can help prevent grinding and bruxism that contribute to wearing of the enamel. You can also avoid acidic breakdown by avoiding soda and lemon in your water, and acidic and sugary foods. Routine exams, regular dental cleanings, and fluoride treatments also minimize damage to tooth enamel.
- Tooth decay leads to tooth loss if left untreated. When you don’t have your full complement of teeth, it leads to open gaps in the mouth, shifting of the other teeth, an increased risk of infection, and deterioration of the jawbone. There are a variety of solutions for missing teeth, including crowns, bridges, temporary flippers, Nesbit, dentures, and dental implants. However, preserving your natural teeth and protecting them against tooth decay is always best.
Our teeth are powerful yet fragile creations. Without them, eating, drinking, speaking, and laughing are all hindered. When our teeth are missing, our appearance is transformed and our confidence is rattled. Caring for them is essential to our health, well-being, and self-image.
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