What is Tooth Decay and Erosion?
Tooth decay is a hole, more commonly known as a cavity, that is formed in a tooth. These holes are caused from the acid that is produced from plaque build-up in the mouth which attacks the enamel on the outside layer of the tooth. As this outer layer of enamel is attacked, it begins to wear down and tooth decay occurs. To many people’s surprise, tooth decay doesn’t target one specific age group, it can occur in anyone from young children to the elderly. On the other hand, erosion is the loss of surface on your teeth due to exposure of acid, often from reflux.
How to spot Tooth Decay and Erosion?
If spotted early, with the help of your dentist here at Mermaid Smiles, early stages of tooth decay may be able to be reversed. An early sign of tooth decay that can be spotted is a small, white spot appearing which is often situated close to the gum line. If this first stage of tooth decay is missed it then turns into a hole or cavity. Without treatment, cavities can become quite painful. Tooth decay causes pain because when left untreated, it begins to penetrate deeper within the tooth and increases the chances of an abscess forming. If continued to be left untreated, the later stages of tooth decay can change the colour of the tooth to a yellow-brown colour or even black.
Although erosion isn’t as common as tooth decay, it can be spotted by noticing if a tooth has a smooth, shiny appearance or if a particular tooth begins becoming sensitive to hot or cold sensations or sweet food.
5 Unusual Causes of Tooth Decay
Majority of people are aware of the common causes of tooth decay and erosion, which include:
- Frequently snacking
- Not brushing your teeth thoroughly
- Continuously sipping on sugary drinks
But what many don’t know are the unusual causes leading to tooth decay.
Smoking is one of the leading causes of tooth decay in adults. Smoking causes tooth decay as it increases the amount of dental plaque in the mouth which breaks down tooth enamel and causes holes. Not only is smoking a leading cause for cavities, but it’s also bad for overall dental health. A smoker is more likely to suffer from oral cancer, gum disease or stained teeth compared to a non-smoker.
2. Biting Fingernails
Another unusual cause of tooth decay is biting fingernails. Biting fingernails is a common habit amongst most people but what they don’t realise is how detrimental it can be to your teeth. Fingernail biting increases the chance of tooth decay as the chipping and cracking of nails against teeth wears enamel away, causing cavities to form. Not only does it wear the outer layer of tooth enamel away, but it also leaves the mouth susceptible to bacteria from the hands and fingernails. When in the mouth, this bacteria turns into acid that again attacks enamel and creates new cavities.
3. Bruxism (teeth grinding)
Bruxism, more commonly known as teeth grinding, is another unusual cause of tooth decay. Teeth grinding increases the chances of tooth decay as the action of grinding the teeth together causes enamel loss on the teeth. From this enamel loss, teeth become more susceptible to forming cavities as the tooth is exposed to acids in the mouth without protection. If you are suffering from teeth grinding, contact our friendly team at Mermaid Smiles for help.
4. Dry Mouth
One of the least known causes of tooth decay is suffering from a dry mouth. Dry mouth is a condition where a lack of saliva causes a build-up of bacteria in the mouth. The job of saliva is to help remove debris from the mouth such as excess food from in and around teeth. Without the help of saliva, the debris cannot be removed from the mouth and when the leftover food particles and acid interact, plaque is formed. As this plaque continues to build, tooth decay then begins to occur. Lack of saliva can be caused due to prescription medications and if you are suffering, don’t hesitate to contact our team at Mermaid Smiles for further assistance.
Wine is the final uncommon cause of tooth decay. Both white and red wine are acidic and, over time, will erode tooth enamel if consumed frequently. Not only does the acidity in wine cause tooth decay, but the acid also deteriorates the enamel which can lead to yellow-looking teeth. The best way to prevent tooth decay from wine consumption is reducing intake as well as brushing your teeth as close to after consuming the wine as possible to remove the acidity from the mouth.
If you’re thinking that you may be suffering from tooth decay or erosion – don’t worry! Our experienced dentists at Mermaid Smiles will be able to assess your oral health and provide you with a treatment plan to help improve your tooth decay or erosion and educate you to prevent it from occurring in the future.
If you would like any further information or would like to book an appointment, give us a call today.