What’s Happening Inside Your Mouth?
The mouth is filled with hundreds of different types of bacteria living on our tongue, gums, teeth and other parts of the mouth. Some are friendly bacteria while some can cause damage such as those that actively take part in the tooth decay process.
Tooth decay occurs due to an infection from a certain bacteria that consume sugar in food and produce acids. Over time, the acid can cause damage leading to a tooth cavity.
Inside the mouth, a war between bacteria and sugar vs. saliva and fluoride happens. Whenever you consume something containing sugar or starch, bacteria use them and secrete acids, which then start to corrode the tooth enamel.
The minerals present in the saliva such as phosphate and calcium, with fluoride from the toothpaste and water help the enamel repair itself by coating the tooth enamel and replacing the lost minerals from the acid attack.
Every day, our mouth undergoes this process of losing and replacing minerals.
How a Cavity Develops
A cavity develops when a tooth is frequently exposed to acid. For instance, if you drink or eat food containing sugar more often, this causes a repeated attach on the enamel, causing more minerals to lose.
A sign of early decay is a white spot on the tooth. This is the stage where a decay can be reversed. Enamel can self-repair provided there’s minerals available from saliva and toothpaste or other sources.
However, the tooth decay process persists when more minerals will be lost. Eventually, it weakens and destroys enamels and a cavity forms. A dental cavity is permanent and can be repaired using a filler.
How to Reverse the Tooth Decay Process
1. Use Flouride. Flouride is beneficial for the teeth as it prevents mineral loss and replaces lost mineral on the enamel. Further, it lowers the ability of bacteria to create acid. You can easily get fluoride from drinking fluoridated water and toothbrushing with a fluoride toothpaste.
Your child’s pediatric dentist can prescribe fluoride gel or varnish for tooth surfaces, fluoride mouth rinse or fluoride tablets if he or she needs more fluoride. If you child drinks only bottled water, visit your dentist to know whether your child needs supplemental fluoride in the form of gel, tablet or varnish.
2. Monitor your child’s diet. Take note that every time your child eats or drinks something with sugar, bacteria inside the mouth use it to produce acids. That is why always keep an eye on what they eat and how often they eat it.
- Save candies, soda, biscuits, cookies and other sugary beverages on special occasions.
- Reduce between-meal snacks
- Limit fruit juice.
- Be sure the child does not eat or drink anything after bedtime toothbrushing. Since the flow of saliva decreases during sleep, the teeth becomes vulnerable to acid attack and are less able to replace lost minerals.
4. Have regular dental check-ups. Bring your child to the dentist for examinations and cleaning.