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Tooth Decay
Dentist Queen Anne Seattle

 Cartoon image of teeth and another tooth with decay. Tooth decay is the most prevalent non-contagious disease in the world. The American Dental Association estimates that only about 10 percent of all adults are free from tooth decay and have never had a cavity in their lives. While tooth decay is prevalent in adults, there are things you can do to prevent cavities in yourself as well as your family. At Queen Anne Family Dental, we address tooth decay every day and would like to help educate you on this prevalent issue.

Understanding Tooth Decay: Causes and Prevention

Bacteria are single-celled organisms that have existed for millennia. They are adaptable to nearly any habitat on Earth, and they can survive extreme heat and cold. Humans have thousands of bacteria throughout the body, including in the mouth. Most bacteria in your body are beneficial. For example, some of the bacteria in your mouth help break down the food you eat to prepare it for digestion. However, there are also bacteria in your mouth that can cause issues such as tooth decay.

Several types of bacteria can cause tooth decay. Streptococcus mutans is the main cause. It lives in the mouth and breaks down sugar into lactic acid, which eats away tooth enamel. Other bacteria associated with tooth decay include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Streptococcus sobrinus, Bifidobacterium, and Propionibacterium.

If you want to keep the bacteria levels in your mouth at low levels, you need to be sure you maintain your dental hygiene routine. Flossing and brushing help rid your mouth of bacteria, which can keep your teeth cavity-free.

The Process of Tooth Decay: From Plaque to Cavities

All tooth decay begins as plaque on your teeth. If you love the feeling of smooth-as-glass teeth that occur right after you visit the dentist, and you hate when the feeling goes away, you are already familiar with plaque. Plaque is a film of mouth bacteria, the acids in the bacteria, food particles, carbohydrates, and saliva. If you take care of your teeth twice a day, part of that tooth brushing routine helps to rid your teeth of the filmy, sticky plaque by brushing it off and rinsing it out of your mouth.

However, if you are not brushing as often as you should, the acids that plaque deposits on your teeth eat away at your tooth enamel. Over time, those acids can create craters in your teeth. As long as the craters are only in your tooth enamel or the very outside of your teeth, these are called dental caries.

If the acids manage to eat through your tooth enamel to reach the second layer of your tooth called the dentin, the dental caries become cavities. A cavity will continue to grow deeper into your tooth and larger in size until it reaches the middle of your tooth, called the tooth pulp, and causes an infection. A cavity will eventually cause your tooth to die unless it is treated.

Preventing Tooth Decay: Effective Strategies for Oral Health

Before your teeth move along the continuum between plaque and tooth loss, you can halt the progression. One of the most important things you can do is improve your oral hygiene. If you floss your teeth and brush them twice a day, you are helping your body remove plaque from your teeth and gums.

If you live in an area with a municipal water supply, your water also provides a way to fight tooth decay. Fluoride is a mineral that keeps your tooth enamel hard and helps to fight tooth decay. If you do not have a municipal water supply and you get your water from a well, no worries. You just need to make sure your toothpaste has fluoride. If you want to fight tooth decay and gum disease, you may want to make sure your toothpaste has both sodium fluoride and stannous fluoride.

To further protect your teeth, make sure that you are making and keeping your dental visits every six months. Dental check-ups allow our dentist to check all of your teeth and ensure that you do not have any dental caries or cavities. If you do have an issue with one or more of your teeth, our dentist can repair your teeth and eliminate any cavities. If you have problems with cavities in your molars, you may want to think about dental sealants as well. Dental sealants coat the biting surface of your molars, which helps to fight cavities. Because molars develop more cavities than any other type of tooth, having sealants applied to your molars may be crucial to your dental health.

Dietary Factors and Tooth Decay: What You Need to Know

Another way you can protect your teeth is to pay attention to what you eat. You will tend to have more tooth decay if you consume too much refined sugar and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates and sugars promote bacterial growth, which means you will have a more difficult time keeping your teeth healthy.

If you want to improve your dental health, you need to eat a diet rich in calcium, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, and D. To get these essential dental vitamins and minerals, be sure that you are consuming dairy products, lean meats, nuts and beans, and fruits and vegetables, and minimizing your carbohydrate and sugar intake. What if you do not consume cow milk or cheese? There are several options available for you, such as soy products or nut products that contain both vitamin D and calcium. You can also benefit from eating beans and lentils, which can contain a lot of tooth-saving vitamins and minerals.

Professional Treatment Options for Tooth Decay

Not sure when your last dental visit was? No matter how long it has been since you visited a dentist, Queen Anne Family Dental will welcome you to our practice. We will do our best to get you in to see our dentist as soon as possible. That way, you can have your teeth cleaned and checked, and our dentist will map out a plan for you to take care of any tooth decay. Why not reach out to our office today at (206) 424-4450 so we can set up an appointment for you with our dentist? Give us a call today!

14 Boston Street, Seattle, WA 98109-2319

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(206) 424-4450



Mon - Thu: 7:30am–4:30pm
Friday: By appointment only

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Tooth Decay • Seattle, WA • Queen Anne Family Dental
Our team at Queen Anne Family Dental can remove tooth decay and restore your tooth. Learn more here!
Queen Anne Family Dental, 14 Boston Street, Seattle, WA 98109-2319 | (206) 424-4450 | | 7/12/2024 | Page Phrases: dentist Queen Anne Seattle |