Battling tooth decay can be a frustrating and depressing experience, especially when the condition seems to be getting worse despite an ongoing dental hygiene effort that includes brushing and flossing the recommended amount of times each day. Unfortunately, simply keeping your teeth clean might not be enough to halt the deleterious process and preserve the remaining enamel, as other factors can continue to contribute to the wearing down of your teeth’s protective layer. Whether you’re suffering from cavities, gum disease, enamel erosion, or a combination of these dental ailments, it is likely that the decay is being influence or exacerbated by at least one of the following four common causes:
1. Consuming the Wrong Foods: Sugar, Acid, Soft Drinks
By far, the leading cause of tooth decay is poor dietary decisions that most dentists wouldn’t dream of making. Eating foods high in sugar can promote bacterial growth, which in turn leads to plaque and tarter buildup in a chain reaction that eventually results in significant decay. Likewise, acidic foods can damage your enamel and drastically accelerate decay by doing so. In fact, many dentists give the rule of thumb that you shouldn’t be eating acidic foods more than twice a day, and you should always brush after consuming them. Soft drinks are perhaps the worst offenders when it comes to tooth decay, thanks to the erosive combination of sugar and phosphoric acid they contain.
2. Cracks, Crevices, and Gaps Harbor Bacteria
If you have gaps, cracks, or crevices in your teeth, these problematic nooks and crannies could be providing ideal spots for bacteria to hide and grow. Food can easily become stuck in such spaces and begin rotting within your mouth, resulting in bad breath and an ongoing battle with decay. The solution here is to avoid stringy foods or any others that easily get stuck in your teeth, and always brush and floss thoroughly after each meal that includes such foods.
3. Lack of Saliva: Dry Mouth Promotes Plaque Buildup
Saliva helps keep bacteria from building up on the surface of your teeth. Thus, a lack of saliva (dry mouth) can contribute to the growth of plaque and tarter and should therefore be addressed in any tooth decay treatment regimen. Be sure to stay hydrated and avoid excessive dairy products to produce an adequate amount of saliva of the right consistency for optimal protection against decay. If hydration is not solving your dry mouth problems, you might need to see a dentist to determine the cause of your saliva production issues.
4. Grinding Teeth
Another commonly overlooked cause of decay is teeth grinding. Many times this inadvertent action is done during the night with the only clue being that your jaw is sore when you wake up. The grinding can slowly chip away at enamel, cause jaw alignment issues, and even result in chipped or cracked teeth that then lead to problems due to common cause #2 on this list. Try using stress reduction techniques to cut down on teeth grinding.
Be Consistent and Go Easy on the Brushing
In addition to addressing all of the above common causes, it is important to be consistent in whatever regimen you choose to follow. Also, don’t let frustration or the desire to get your teeth cleaner trick you into brushing aggressively. If there were 5 causes on the above list, aggressive brushing would be the 5th due to the fact that so many people are damaging their own enamel by applying excessive force when brushing.