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Tooth Decay
Dentist Platte City, MO

 Translucent model of teeth showing red roots of a decaying tooth at Platte Valley Dental Care in Platte City, MO. Tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities, is one of the most common oral health problems worldwide. It occurs when the hard surface of your teeth is damaged by acids produced by bacteria in your mouth. Understanding the causes and effective prevention strategies is crucial to maintaining good oral health.

Understanding Tooth Decay: Causes and Prevention

A variety of key factors can result in tooth decay, but it's primarily caused by the interaction between sugars in your diet and the bacteria in your mouth. Your mouth is home to many types of bacteria. When these bacteria combine with food particles and saliva, they form a sticky film known as plaque. Plaque adheres to the surfaces of your teeth, particularly in hard-to-reach areas.

The bacteria in plaque feed on sugars from the food and drinks you consume, producing acids as a byproduct. These acids can erode the enamel, which is the hard, outer surface of your teeth, leading to decay. Inadequate brushing and flossing allow plaque to build up, increasing the risk of tooth decay. Without regular removal, plaque can harden into tartar, at which point only a dentist can remove it.
Preventing tooth decay involves a combination of good oral hygiene practices, dietary choices, and regular dental care:
•  Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel, making it more resistant to acid attacks.
•  Flossing removes plaque and food particles from between your teeth and under the gumline, areas that your toothbrush can't reach.
•  Reducing your intake of sugary snacks and beverages can significantly lower your risk of tooth decay. Opt for water, milk, and unsweetened beverages instead.
•  Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and check-ups. Your dentist can detect early signs of decay and provide treatments to prevent it from progressing.

The Impact of Diet on Tooth Decay

Your diet plays a significant role in the health of your teeth. The foods and drinks you consume can either contribute to or help prevent tooth decay. For that reason, we recommend limiting your intake of certain sugary and sticky foods and drinks.

Candy, cookies, and other sugary snacks can increase the amount of acid in your mouth, which can erode your tooth enamel. Soft drinks, sports drinks, and fruit juices often contain high levels of sugar and acids that can lead to tooth decay. Foods like dried fruits and sticky candies can cling to your teeth, providing a prolonged food source for bacteria.

Other foods can strengthen your teeth and oral health, and we encourage our patients to add more of these to their diets. Milk, cheese, and yogurt contain calcium and phosphates that help remineralize tooth enamel and strengthen teeth. Foods like carrots, apples, and celery stimulate saliva production, which helps neutralize acids and wash away food particles. Drinking water helps rinse away food particles and bacteria, keeping your mouth clean.

Effective Oral Hygiene Practices to Prevent Tooth Decay

Adopting effective oral hygiene practices is essential for preventing tooth decay and maintaining overall oral health. Here are some key practices:
•  Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, hold it at a 45-degree angle to your gums and brush in gentle, circular motions. Don't forget to brush all surfaces of your teeth, including the front, back, and chewing surfaces.
•  Flossing at least once a day removes plaque and food particles from between your teeth and along the gumline. Use a gentle sawing motion and curve the floss around each tooth to avoid injuring your gums.
•  An antibacterial mouthwash can help reduce the bacteria in your mouth and freshen your breath.
•  Chewing sugar-free gum after meals stimulates saliva production, which helps neutralize acids and wash away food particles.

Professional Treatments for Tooth Decay: What You Need to Know

Despite your best efforts, you may still develop cavities that require professional treatment. Understanding the available treatments can help you make informed decisions about your dental care.

Fillings are the most common treatment for cavities. Staci Blaha, DDS will remove the decayed portion of your tooth and fill the cavity with a material such as composite resin, amalgam, or gold. Composite resin fillings are popular because they match the color of your natural teeth. Gold or metallic-colored fillings are generally used in the back of the mouth, where they are less visible and so that the molars can benefit from the stronger filling material.

For more extensive decay, we may need to put in a dental crown. A crown is a cap that covers the entire tooth, restoring its shape, size, and function. Crowns are often made from porcelain, metal, or a combination of materials.

If the decay has reached the pulp (the innermost part of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels), we may need to perform a root canal. During a root canal, the infected pulp is removed, the inside of the tooth is cleaned and disinfected, and the tooth is sealed with a filling. A crown is often placed over the tooth to protect it.

Tooth Decay in Children: Prevention Tips for Parents

Children are particularly susceptible to tooth decay due to their developing teeth and varying oral hygiene habits. Parents play a crucial role in helping their children maintain good oral health. Begin cleaning your child's mouth even before their first tooth appears by wiping their gums with a clean, damp cloth. Once teeth start to emerge, brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste that is safe to swallow.

Children need help brushing their teeth until they are around seven or eight years old. Ensure they brush for two minutes twice a day. Teach your child the importance of good oral hygiene and make brushing and flossing a fun and positive experience. Use games, songs, or rewards to motivate them to take care of their teeth.

Encourage healthy eating habits by limiting sugary snacks and beverages. Offer water or milk instead of sugary drinks, and choose healthy snacks like fruits, vegetables, and cheese.

Schedule regular dental check-ups for your child, starting with their first birthday. Staci Blaha, DDS can monitor their oral health, provide professional cleanings, and apply dental sealants to protect their teeth.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact our office at (816)858-2027.

Office Hours
Monday: 9 AM to 5 PM
Tuesday: 8 AM to 5 PM
Wednesday: 8 AM to 5 PM
Thursday: 8 AM to 5 PM
Friday: CLOSED

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Tooth Decay | Platte City, MO | Platte Valley Dental Care
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Platte Valley Dental Care, 1316 Plaza Court, Platte City, MO 64079-7628 • (816)858-2027 • pvdentalcare.com • 7/13/2024 • Associated Words: dentist •