Chewing on a piece of hard candy or feeling the jaws of a neighbor’s pet clamping down on your arm can cause you to appreciate the power of teeth. Their vulnerability, however, often goes unrecognized.
Teeth are vulnerable to permanent damage. Their hard surface, or enamel, can develop tiny holes or openings called cavities.
When teeth are not cleaned well, the sugars and starches from food particles remain on their surface. This provides a tasty meal for bacteria that feed on the residue and form plaque. If plaque is not removed, it can harden into tartar and thereby become more difficult to dislodge.
The acids present in plaque wear away the tooth enamel, and this makes it possible for bacteria and acid to reach deeper layers of the teeth. Erosion of the enamel also causes cavities, or dental decay, to begin to form.
As the bacteria and acid come into contact with the inner area of the tooth, or pulp, they cause it to become irritated and to swell. Because this swelling presses on nerves, you will then experience pain, and you will likely consider making a dental appointment.
Visiting the Dentist
Regular dental checkups can reduce the need for extensive dental treatments. In some cases, however, the decay might be so severe that restoring your original tooth is no longer an option. If so, the dentist will need to remove the decayed tooth.
Once a tooth has been pulled from your mouth, the extraction will leave a gap that can permit the shifting of nearby teeth. To prevent this from occurring, a dental implant can be used to replace the missing tooth. Brooklyn dental implants, which a local professional can provide, are an option for those who have had a tooth removed.
Realizing Your Risk
If you have teeth, then you also have the potential to develop cavities. However, certain conditions and behaviors can increase your risk of experiencing dental decay.
Saliva contains substances that work against the eroding acid that bacteria produce. It also washes away plaque and food particles that would otherwise stick to the teeth. When saliva production is reduced, the risk of cavity formation is increased. Thus, having a dry mouth due to receiving radiation to the neck and head area or taking certain medications can put you at a greater risk for dental decay.
The eating disorders bulimia and anorexia can also interfere with the ability to produce saliva. As well, repeatedly vomiting will allow stomach acid to wash over your teeth, erode the enamel, and lead to cavities. Thankfully, the dentist can offer advice that may allow your first cavity to be your last.