Save Your Teeth (You're Gonna Need Them)

Your Awesome Teeth...

Did you know that human teeth are naturally as strong as stainless steel?  They are made to stand up to an entire lifetime of wear and tear.  Our teeth are functional, (the first step in digestion is chewing food), but also aesthetic — our teeth play lead role in a beautiful smile.  Given their importance, it is only normal that we want to look after our teeth as best we can.

Acidic Roots of Tooth Decay

Interestingly, as strong as a tooth is, it is surrounded by microscopic enemies.  The human mouth is host to an astonishing variety of bacteria. These bacteria feed themselves on the remains of our food, especially sugary food. I explain the process to my 5-year-old in the following way: the bacteria live on our teeth, eat sugar, and poop out acid.  This acid makes holes in our teeth, the bacteria go in a little further, and the cycle continues.

Another threat to our teeth is soft drinks.  The carbonic acid in soft drinks slowly dissolves our teeth. The acid in soft drinks, such as Coke, is also strong enough to remove burnt residue on pots and pans, clean car batteries, or (and this one is telling) dissolve a tooth left sitting in a glass of Coke after two days.  The enamel and dentine of our once strong teeth are made soft and weak by exposure to this acid.

DIY Tooth Decay Prevention

Now that you know some of the causes of tooth decay, the standard dental advice seems obvious: we should cut down on the amount of sugar and soft drinks in our diet. Brushing our teeth removes thebacteria that attack them, and the fluoride in the toothpaste actually helps strengthen the teeth. Flossing is also essential, because by physically scraping the surfaces where teeth meet, (in places where brushes can’t go) the floss actually removes the bacteria in these areas and minimises our risk of decay or gum disease in these areas.   A final resource is tooth mousse.  Applied after brushing, tooth mousse actually helps to re-mineralise the teeth, providing the ingredients needed to build the teeth back up after they have started to become porous from acid attack.

When to See the Pros

A dentist can quickly spot key signs of tooth decay. X-rays are also used to reveal the state of the teeth in areas beyond what is visible to the naked eye.  Decay that is in its early stages can sometimes be treated with a fluoride varnish that makes the teeth stronger and protects them from acid attack. Early decay in molar grooves can sometimes be treated with fissure sealants.  6-monthly check-ups allow your dentist to spot early signs of decay, when remedies are more straightforward (and less expensive).  If you believe you have tooth decay at the moment, the sooner you get in to see us, the easier the remedy will be.

Tooth Anatomy

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