TOOTH DECAY AND GUM DISEASE
What causes tooth decay and how does it happen?
Two factors are needed for tooth decay to develop:
Every time we eat something with sugar in it, the bacteria in the plaque on our teeth will produce an acid that attacks the teeth for approximately 20 minutes. This is called an acid attack and it happens every time you eat something with sugar in it. The more acid attacks there are on teeth every day from eating sweet food and drinks, the more risk there is of developing tooth decay.
It is therefore important to limit the number of times during the day you have a sweet snack or drink. Brushing your teeth twice a day to remove the plaque that builds up every day is also important.
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The Stages of Tooth Decay
|1. Healthy Teeth||2. Medium sized cavities (holes) caused by tooth decay - can easily be fixed, but need to be taken to a dentist straight away!||3. Large cavities caused by tooth decay - can be fixed, although may need root canal treatment and the teeth will be weakened for life.||4. By not looking after teeth they may be lost forever, in this case most of the top teeth cannot be saved.|
Plaque, the layer of bacteria that develops on everyone's teeth during the day and night, can cause gum disease as well as tooth decay. Gum disease develops when plaque builds up at the gum line, where teeth meet the gums, from not cleaning properly in those areas. When plaque builds up at the gum line, the bacteria in the plaque will start to infect the gums.
The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. The gums will become red and swollen and will bleed easily when you are brushing. Healthy gums should not bleed when brushing. It's important not to stop brushing and flossing to avoid bleeding, however, as that will just make the problem worse (more plaque will build up). Gingivitis can actually be cured by brushing and flossing well to remove the plaque build-up causing it. The swelling and bleeding will then go away.
The later stage of gum disease is called periodontitis. It is caused by continued plaque build-up at the gumline from not cleaning teeth. Smoking also makes gum disease worse. At this stage the bone surrounding the teeth and gums will gradually be eaten away. If left untreated, this may lead to loss of teeth, as in the end there will be no bone left around the tooth to keep it in place. Gum disease at this stage also causes really bad breath.
To prevent gum disease from developing, the most important thing is to brush teeth twice a day. Flossing regularly is also helpful. To read more about oral health care, click here
|1. Healthy Gums||2. Early Stage of Gum Disease (Gingivitis) - can be cured by brushing and flossing to remove the plaque build-up causing the problem.||3. Later Stage of Gum Disease - can no longer be fixed by brushing and flossing, it needs to be taken to a dentist as soon as possible!|
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