Your teeth are strong, but how strong? The enamel of your tooth, the visible white portion, is the hardest material in your body, even stronger than your bones! Enamel is actually harder than iron or steel because nature designed enamel to last a lifetime. Teeth can even survive temperatures up to 1,000 degree Celsius!
So why can our teeth decay?
Unfortunately for us enamel has its own kryptonite – acid. Most food products and beverages (including fruit juice, wine, etc) that we consume contain acid.
When we eat foods that contain sugar or simple carbohydrates, acid is produced from the oral bacteria (or plaque as it is commonly known) that is present. This acid weakens the enamel leading to a loss in minerals and over time this leads to dental decay.
There are a few simple guidelines we should follow to prevent decay.
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. This cleans 60% of the tooth surfaces.
- Floss daily. This is important for children and adults. A significant portion of dental decay occurs in between teeth.
- Reduce acid intake. Limit the intake of soft drinks, juices, wines, beers, sports drinks and even some fruits.
- Avoid snacking on sugary, refined or acidic foods as these provide ample fuel for acid-forming bacteria. Your teeth need at least a 2 hour gap between consumption to remineralise.
- Drink water. This provides a buffering effect and helps keep your mouth hydrated.
- Ask your dentist about dental sealants. Sealants are a thin plastic resin placed over the biting surface of your teeth. By covering the deep grooves, which can be hard to clean, you are protecting them from decay. Sealants are quick and simple to place.
Professional cleaning and visiting your dentist every 6 months will help maintain good oral hygiene and safeguard your teeth from minor cavities , before they become difficult and costly to correct.