What causes erosion of dental enamel?
Tooth decay is caused by the action of normal oral bacteria. Plaque is a clear, naturally occurring film produced by the resident bacteria in our mouths. Plaque coats out teeth, and particles of our food stick to it in turn becoming food for the bacteria. The bacteria release acids as they digest and, of course multiply. What we feed them matters! Sweets (or simple carbohydrates) are an optimal food source and result in an acidic environment for our teeth.
Proper tooth brushing effectively removes plaque acids
Inadequate brushing or frequent snacking/sipping sugary drinks prolongs the contact of these acids with the teeth. With time, the acids erode the crystalline structure of enamel.
Stages and treatment of tooth decay
*First stage of decay: pain-free, tiny caries are soft and tacky. These become difficult to rid of plaque with a brush – and so the erosion proceeds;
* Second stage: In time, the caries extend through the full thickness of the enamel. Once this tough outer coat is breached, decay sets to work on the dentine, the softer – and sensitive – inner tissue of the tooth.
Characteristics of Stage 2: early pain and rapid erosion of the softer inner structure
* Third and final stage: Untreated, the decay eventually reaches the innermost chamber of the tooth. This is where the nerve (or pulp) resides – a highly sensitive structure. Designed to alert us to problems in the body, the nerve becomes inflamed and severely painful.
Once at Stage 3, it is more likely that more complex treatment is required to relieve the pain of pulpitis (inflamed nerve) and save the tooth.
Why not check out our tips for effective brushing to thoroughly remove plaque? Or book a visit with the dentist or hygienist and ask about disclosing tablets to help improve your technique?