There are thousands of different types of bacteria that live within our mouths. Our tongues, gums, and teeth are loaded with them. Most bacteria within our bodies are very helpful, but some bacteria can cause our bodies problems. For instance, some types of bacteria that live in our mouths can cause tooth decay. Tooth decay happens when the bacteria in our mouths use the sugars in the foods that we eat, producing in an acid that can cause a cavity within a tooth. The bacteria can use sugars and also starches to produce acid. While it is widely regarded that foods such as candy and sugary drinks such as soda, juice and milk cause cavities, foods such as breads and pastas, which contain starches, also help the bacteria to produce acids.
A cavity develops through the constant exposure to acid. These prolonged exposures break down the enamel, removing its minerals; a small white spot on the tooth is evidence that this has occurred. Following an acid attack the enamel can harden again, by using minerals from saliva and fluoride. However if the acid attacks are too frequent or prolonged, decay can result.
Fluoride is very important to preventing tooth decay, because it can stop decay from progressing, but, also, fluoride can reverse or stop an early decay of the tooth. Fluoride is in our toothpastes and even in most community water supplies. Most bottled waters do not contain enough fluoride to prevent tooth decay, so if a person only drinks bottled water, fluoride should be supplemented in other ways.
Diet is very important to the prevention of tooth decay. Eat and drink sugary foods and drinks on special occasions. Try not to snack all day long; enamel needs some time to repair itself between meals. Do not eat or drink anything that contains sugar, after you have brushed your teeth for the night. Bacteria will have ample time to convert those sugars to acids while you sleep. Also, make sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day, and brush with fluoride toothpaste.
For more information on tooth decay and other dental related issues, please contact Healthy Gums Montana.