Patient Education

What is tooth decay


A combination of plaque, sugar and time leads to tooth decay. The bacteria in the plaque, which sits on the tooth surface, use the sugars from our diet to produce acid. These bacteria survive well in an acidic environment and continue to produce more acid. The acids produced will dissolve the tooth surface very quickly by removing Calcium and Phosphate. These minerals are what make the tooth strong. If sugar is frequently available to the bacteria and lots of acid is being produced, the tooth surface will continually dissolve. This leads to tooth decay. If plaque from the tooth surface and sugars from the diet can be eliminated or greatly reduced, the risk of decay starting is minimised. Decay can also be stopped or reversed. This can only happen if acid production stops and the lost minerals are replaced. Lost minerals can be replaced with Fluoride and the Calcium and Phosphate in saliva.

Tooth decay can be detected during a thorough dental examination and history. It is important to detect decay early and determine whether you are at a high risk for developing tooth decay. This allows for preventive strategies specifically designed for your needs to be put in place. These strategies will require a certain amount of time and effort on your part, however the benefits of avoiding tooth decay are well worth it.

 
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