Tooth Decay 101 By Our Glendale Dental Team—Protect Your Smile

Written by Dr. McKay on Feb 5, 2019

As the saying goes, knowledge is power! Our Glendale dentists truly believe that the more our patients know about the root causes of oral health problems, the better equipped they are to proactively protect their smiles. With that in mind, here is some useful information about how dental decay develops…

The dental enamel is the outermost layer of your tooth; it is tasked with protecting more vulnerable tooth layers, like dentin and tooth pulp, from irritants and infection. Enamel is comprised of minerals, and while these minerals are quite resilient, they are not indestructible.

Dental decay occurs when a patient’s dental enamel is compromised and infiltrated. Harmful bacteria in your smile release acids as they feed and grow; these acids cause enamel demineralization. When you consume a lot of sugars and refined carbohydrates, you provide oral bacteria with the exact substances they need to thrive. This is why it’s best to limit your consumption of sweets and highly processed foods.

Additionally, acidic foods and drinks—as they come into contact with a tooth—temporarily weaken dental enamel, and leave the tooth susceptible to damage. Long-term acid exposure will cause the enamel to wear way and become thinner.

As portions of your teeth become weaker, bacteria will colonize these vulnerable tissues. Dental bacterial decay generally begins in the dental enamel, and then works its way through the dentin to the dental core. Alternatively, decay can start at the tooth root, and move up into the tooth that way.

Protecting your smile from damage and decay means:

  • Following your dentist-recommended oral hygiene plan
  • Staying hydrates, so that your body can produce enough saliva
  • Rinsing your mouth after eating or drinking anything other than water
  • Seeking prompt treatment for developing decay, so that it can be stopped before it becomes severe

To learn more about how dental decay occurs, and to get additional information about how you can protect your smile, please feel free to call our Glendale dentists