How Teeth Decay

Causes of tooth decay
Tooth decay is caused by the action of bacteria on the foods you eat. Thousands of bacteria exist in everyone’s mouth. Most of these bacteria are beneficial, but some of them form tightly-knit colonies called plaque, which is the sticky, colorless film that develops constantly on your teeth.

The bacteria in plaque survive by digesting the foods you eat, specifically the ones that are broken down into simple sugars. These include candy and sweets, as well as other high-carbohydrate foods like pasta, bread, cereals, milk, dried fruits, juices, and sweetened drinks.

When the plaque bacteria digest these sugars, a chemical reaction occurs, and the bacteria produce acid.

The process of decay
Tooth decay starts when the acid slowly dissolves the minerals in the enamel layer of your teeth. This forms a demineralized area that appears as a white or brown spot on a tooth’s surface. This is the first visible sign of tooth decay.

In the best circumstances, saliva balances the effects of the acid. It helps wash away bacteria, neutralizes the acids, and replaces the minerals that were lost to acid attack. However, if you eat too many sugary or starchy foods or if you eat too often, your saliva can’t keep up with the bacteria. These conditions allow the bacteria to reproduce wildly and develop even thicker accumulations of plaque.

The accumulations of plaque keep saliva away from the tooth surface, and eventually the acids create a hole in the enamel layer of your tooth. This hole is called a cavity. Areas in the mouth that trap plaque are especially at risk for decay. These include the grooves in the biting surfaces of teeth, in between teeth, along the gumline, and on any exposed tooth roots.

How to avoid decay
You can resist tooth decay by regularly taking action to slow acid production, remove plaque from your teeth, and strengthen the tooth enamel. Here are some tips:

  • Cut down on acid production by limiting the number of times you eat each day and reducing the sugary and starchy foods in your diet.
  • Brush after meals to remove plaque, and floss at least once a day to get at the plaque trapped between teeth.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste because fluoride strengthens tooth enamel.
  • When you can’t brush, rinse with water to help wash away food and bacteria, and chew sugarless gum to stimulate the saliva. Choose a gum sweetened with xylitol, which inhibits decay-causing bacteria.
  • Come see us regularly for checkups and preventive care.

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Dr. J. Denton HardieMeet Dr Hardie

Dr. J. Denton Hardie is a compassionate and gentle dentist practicing in the Albany, Georgia area. Dr. Hardie believes a nice smile brightens up your entire face, shows confidence, and increases self-esteem. He takes pride in the fact that many patients tell him their treatments were painless, which is the result of a calm, skilled, and caring hand. Specializing in a variety of dental care options, Dr. Hardie invites you to find out a bit more about his background and his practice.

A healthier, happier smile is available right here in Albany!

"I believe a visit to the dentist and the resulting service should exceed the expectations of the patient. This begins the very moment a patient contacts the office and follows through to the completion of their immediate treatment needs. It is very rewarding to assist patients in achieving a greater level of oral health through education, easing concerns of anxiety, managing a busy schedule or working their dental expense into the family budget.

Complete comprehensive dentistry requires the knowledge to make a thorough diagnosis and skill to deliver quality workmanship. I pride myself and my staff on having the education, training and experience to provide this for our patients. It is a wonderful experience to share my patients happiness with their smile. It daily confirms my choice of profession, making me know why I became a dentist." - Dr. J. Denton Hardie.

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