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5 Surprising Causes of Tooth Decay Revealed By a Dentist in Lexington, SC

Your dentist in Lexington, SC has probably done a good job at explaining to you the importance of proper oral hygiene. You know — brush two to three times per day, floss regularly, and don’t neglect your regularly scheduled check-ups. All of this is sound dental hygiene advice which you know you should follow.

Ask your Dentist in Lexington, SC About Tooth Decay

Some of the causes of tooth decay might surprise you, and we’re all susceptible to it if we don’t follow certain protocols. In fact, when you ask, your dentist will tell you — tooth decay is more common than you think.

Before we dive into some of the causes of tooth decay, let’s first look at what your teeth are comprised of, and how tooth decay develops.

The Three Parts of a Tooth

  • Enamel — the hard outer coating of a tooth
  • Dentine– the softer, bone-like material underneath the enamel
  • Pulp — the soft center of the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels

How Tooth Decay Develops

Tooth decay is caused over time by plaque forming on your teeth. Your mouth is full of bacteria, which combine with small food particles and saliva to form this plaque, which is a sticky film which builds up on your teeth.

When you consume sugary or starchy foods and beverages, the bacteria in plaque turn the carbohydrates into energy they need while simultaneously producing acid. Over time, the acid in plaque begins to break down your tooth’s surface. Surely your dentist in Lexington, SC has advised you to brush or rinse after consuming sugar, and now you know why.

It can get worse, though. The plaque will first start to erode the enamel, and a small hole — commonly known as a cavity — can develop on the surface. Once cavities have formed in the enamel, the plaque and bacteria can reach the dentin. Since the dentin is softer than the enamel, the process of tooth decay speeds up.

Without treatment from your dentist in Lexington, SC, plaque and bacteria will enter the pulp. At this stage, your tooth’s nerve will be exposed to bacteria, causing you severe pain. The bacteria will infect the tissue within the pulp, creating a dental abscess.

5 Surprising Causes of Tooth Decay

Now that you know the connection between poor dental hygiene and tooth decay, let’s discuss some other contributing factors. You might find some of these risk factors surprising. Here are five significant causes of tooth decay.

1. Smoking

Your primary doctor has warned you about smoking, and now your dentist in Lexington, SC is doing the same: Smoking is a leading cause of tooth decay. Not to mention, it’s also bad for your oral health in other ways. For example, smoking increases your chances of suffering from oral cancer, developing gum disease and having stained teeth.

2. Biting your fingernails

Chewing your fingernails is a common anxious habit, but it transfers bacteria to your gums, thereby promoting tooth decay and increasing your chances of developing a dental infection. Try to find a substitute for chewing your nails, such as squeezing a stress ball.

3. Bruxism (teeth grinding)

Chronically grinding your teeth during the night can increase your chances of developing tooth decay, as well as causing cracked teeth, jaw pain, and sensitivity. If you think you suffer from bruxism, talk to your dentist in Lexington, SC about a night guard that will reduce the damage to your teeth.

4. Dry mouth

If you don’t have enough saliva in your mouth, it is easier for a buildup of bacteria to form and cause tooth decay. On occasion the cause of a dry mouth is unknown, but it is commonly a side affect of several prescription medications on the market (i.e. allergy treatments). Your dentist in Lexington, SC may provide artificial saliva products to improve your situation and he can inform you if any of your medications cause dry mouth.

5. Wine

Wine is acidic and will over time erode enamel, inviting tooth decay. Red wine will also stain your teeth! Ideally, you should brush your teeth fairly soon after drinking any wine.

Final Note

Prevention of tooth decay starts with your commitment to following proper dental care procedures. Most people already understand the toll that sugary foods and beverages can take on your teeth. Hopefully, this article sheds some light on the lesser known risk factors of tooth decay. At Smith & Robinson, DMD, we not only enjoy educating, but we also take pride in being your dentist in Lexington, SC.

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