How to prevent dental decay

We all would like to have healthy, strong, pain free teeth for as long as we live. One of the main reasons teeth cause pain is dental decay. Dental decay is, in the vast majority of cases preventable. Barbican dental centre would like to give you top tips for keeping your teeth healthy.

What is dental decay?

Dental decay is caused when the enamel (hard white part of tooth) and dentine (lies under the enamel) becomes softened by acid attacks producing a cavity (hole). These attacks happen when the sugars we eat and drink react with the bacteria in our plaque producing acids. The attacks can last for up to an hour but our saliva can help to neutralise these acid and harden the tooth again. However eating and drinking to many sugary foods and drinks too often will not allow for the tooth to repair leading to dental decay and holes in your teeth.

How can I prevent dental decay?

The leading cause of tooth decay is poor oral hygiene and diet.

  • Brush your teeth regularly: twice daily using a fluoride tooth paste for at least 2 minutes, concentrating on all surfaces of your teeth, moving your tooth brush in a circular motion whilst brushing. If you are an adult do not rinse your mouth after you brush – this just washes away the fluoride that helps protect teeth
  • Cleaning in-between your teeth with floss, flossets or interdental brushes at least once a day can effectively remove harmful plaque formation and food trapping from in-between your teeth
  • In between brushing i.e. after lunch try to rinse with a fluoride mouth wash , water or chew a sugar free chewing gum to help neutralise acid formation which can lead to tooth decay
  • Try not to eat or drink too many sugary foods, especially in between your meals as it is the frequency of sugar intake that causes tooth decay rather than the amount. The more sugar we eat, the more acid attacks are teeth are exposed to leading to tooth decay. Ensure to watch out for hidden sugars in foods by checking the labels
  • Try not have sugary foods or drinks late at night or before going to bed since at this time of the day your saliva is less effective at keeping your teeth healthy
  • Watch out for sugary and acidic drinks and juices even the ones that are claimed to be healthy have a lot of added sugar. Replace these type of drinks with water and milk especially in-between meals.
  • Ensure to have regular check ups with your dentist, these visits will detect any early signs of tooth decay and can be treated with a filling.
  • Leaving dental decay untreated will cause the decay to travel to the pulp of the tooth (underneath the dentine) which can only be treated with a root canal treatment (see root canal treatment leaflet) or even worse a tooth extraction (removal of a tooth).

If you would like to see one of our dentists to help maintain your teeth or if you feel you have holes in your teeth that may require attention please contact Barbican Dental Centre on 0207 2533 232.