The Process of Tooth Decay

Our mouths and teeth are constantly bathed in saliva, a simple, remarkable fluid that helps protect our oral health. Saliva keeps teeth and other oral tissues moist and lubricated, washes away some of the food particles left behind after we eat, keeps acid levels in the mouth low, and protects against some viruses and bacteria.

We have many different strains of bacteria in our mouths. Some bacteria are good; they help control destructive bacteria. When it comes to decay, Streptococcus mutans is the bacterial strain that does the most damage. It attaches easily to teeth and produces acid.

Every time we eat, the bacteria in our mouths produce acid. All carbohydrate foods, as they are digested, eventually break down into simple sugars, such as glucose and fructose. The sugars in these foods combine with the bacteria normally in the mouth to form acids. These acids cause the mineral crystals inside the teeth to begin to dissolve. A cavity forms when the tooth decay breaks through the enamel to the underlying layers of the tooth.

A white spot appears on the enamel where the tooth has started to weaken inside. At this stage, the tooth can repair the weakened area with the help of fluoride and minerals in saliva. But if the decay continues and breaks through the surface of the enamel, the damage is permanent. The decay must be cleaned out and the cavity filled by a dentist. Left untreated, the decay will worsen and destroy a tooth all the way through the outer enamel layer, through the inside dentin layer and down to the pulp or nerve of the tooth.

If you are looking for a dentist in the Troy and Birmingham area who utilizes the latest dental techniques and technology, be sure to check out Dr. Douglas Angell. Angell’s Dentistry is committed to providing each of our patients with a beautiful, healthy smile and unmatched dental care. Give our office a call at (248) 362-4330 and be sure to visit our website at: www.angellsdentistry.com.

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