What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay is the destruction of the outer surface of the tooth. Its results from the action of bacteria that live in plaque, whitish film formed by a protein insaliva and sugary substances in the mouth. The plaque bacteria sticking to tooth surface use the sugar and starch from food particles in the mouth to produce acid.
How to prevent tooth decay?
Although tooth decay is a common problem, it's often entirely preventable. The best way to avoid tooth decay is to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. For example, you should:
- Visit your dentist regularly – your dentist will decide how often they need to see you based on the condition of your mouth, teeth and gums.
- Cut down on sugary and starchy food and drinks, particularly between meals or within an hour of going to bed – some medications can also contain sugar, so it's best to look for sugar-free alternatives where possible.
- Look after your teeth and gums – brushing your teeth properly with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day, using floss and an interdental brush at least once a day.
- Avoid smoking: tobacco can interfere with saliva production, which helps to keep your teeth clean.
- See your dentist or GP if you have a persistently dry mouth – this may be caused by certain medicines, treatment or medical conditions.