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Tooth decay is one of the most common dental health problems that affect both children and adults worldwide. It is also one of the most preventable oral health problems. Good oral hygiene is a vital part of preventing tooth decay. In this article, you will learn about the various signs of tooth decay and how you can prevent it.
What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay is damage that occurs to a tooth’s surface or enamel. It usually happens when mouth bacteria make acids that begin to erode the tooth enamel.
Top signs of tooth decay
Tooth decay symptoms vary, which may come as a surprise, especially if you think you practice good oral hygiene. The following are the signs of tooth decay to look out for:
Swollen or bleeding gums
When your gums feel irritated, sensitive, or even painful, you may have swollen or undetected bleeding gums. Gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums due to a bacterial infection, is one of the most common causes of bleeding gums. Most people don’t know when they have gingivitis, and when these bacteria build up, they start to produce acids that attack the enamel, which can lead to tooth decay.
Pressure on your teeth
At times you may feel pain or pressure when you bite down on food. There are also situations where you feel some pain or discomfort around your mouth. If this pressure sensitivity lingers, you need to visit a dentist.
Sensitivity in your teeth
Tooth sensitivity usually occurs in the form of tenderness or pain when you’re eating or drinking something hot or cold. At times this may not cause any pain. When you feel this sensitivity in your teeth, it may be a result of enamel erosion.
Poor dental habits are one of the leading causes of bad breath in early tooth decay and cavities. If you have noticed unpleasant mouth odors that linger even after brushing and flossing, then you need to visit your dentist. It may be a possible sign of tooth decay.
Discoloration on your teeth
Tooth discoloration is one of the intrinsic signs of tooth decay. Excessive tobacco use, gum diseases, certain food and drinks, and general poor dental hygiene cause teeth discoloration. Tooth discoloration usually represents physical manifestations of poor dental habits, which may lead to tooth decay.
An unpleasant taste in your mouth
Dental problems such as infection and poor dental habits may lead to bad tastes and represent early warning signs of tooth decay.
Tips to prevent tooth decay
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publication on Adult Oral Health, More than 25% of adults in the United States have untreated tooth decay. If not treated, it can cause tooth loss. Here are simple tips to prevent tooth decay:
Avoid frequent snacking
Snacking all day long can cause tooth decay. Every time you snack, you are exposing your teeth to more sugars. A balanced diet, low in sugar and processed foods, is one of the ways to protect your teeth and prevent tooth cavities or decay.
Eat dental healthy foods and drinks
You’re what you eat! Well, that’s true for your dental health too. A healthy mouth requires eating whole grains instead of refined grains, low-sugar bread, and fruits and vegetables such as apples, leafy greens such as spinach, lettuce, and kale. Also, water is not just the best beverage for your body but also for your teeth.
Brush and floss regularly
Brushing your teeth regularly with a fluoride toothpaste is one of the most effective ways of preventing a tooth cavity or decay. Regular flossing to clean between your teeth completes the process.
Keep your mouth hydrated
Water improves your smile. Drinking water to keep your mouth hydrated helps your teeth stay healthy and strong. Water helps eliminate dry mouth by keeping your mouth moist and preventing bacteria colonies from producing so many acids that erode enamel leading to tooth cavities or decay. Also, drinking water with fluoride helps prevent tooth decay.
Tooth decay is higher in people who smoke cigarettes. More than 40% of adults between ages 20 and 64 who currently smoke cigarettes have untreated tooth decay.
Reduce sugary foods and drinks
Sugars have a direct connection to tooth decay. When sugars, either raw or processed in foods and drinks, combine with saliva and mouth bacteria, it forms plaque. This combination forms acids that dissolve the enamel when left on the teeth. You can prevent tooth cavities or decay by minimizing sugary foods and drinks.
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