In the first part of this article, you found out about one of the oldest problems humankind had and still has to deal with. In this part of the article, you will understand which bacteria in the mouth is harmful, how it damages your teeth and how you can prevent tooth decay.
How it works
Specific bacteria (mutants lactobacilli and streptococci) attach themselves to the dental plaque on your teeth. Dental plaque is the whitish sticky film you find on your teeth in the morning when you wake up. The poorer the oral hygiene, the more dental plaque you will have. Sugars and carbohydrates you consume are broken down by bacteria which uses them for their own metabolism. Bacteria give off acids as a by-product which drops the saliva’s pH. The pH in the mouth goes from 1 to 14, 1 being the most acidic and 14 the most alkaline. Most water has a pH of 7. When the pH levels in the mouth reach 5.5, the mineral from the enamel starts to dissolve. This process is called demineralization and it means that more calcium and phosphate leaves the tooth than enters. The common effects and early demineralization of the enamel are seen as white spots on the tooth.
The inner part of the tooth, composed of dentin and root surfaces, has fewer minerals than the enamels. This makes it much more vulnerable to acid demineralization and is affected at a much higher pH (around 6 and 6.6).
Short attacks from bacterial acid can be neutralized in just 30 minutes with the help of healthy saliva. Saliva contains the minerals required to remineralize the tooth’s enamel layer. If the saliva is not healthy or if it is not sufficient, the remineralization process is not efficient.
How to determine your risk of dental decay and how to prevent it
Every person has a different level of risk for developing tooth caries. This risk is dynamic and changed daily. It is crucial do assess the degree of risk you are presenting. Preventing means more than brushing, flossing and avoiding sugar. Preventing tooth decay involves determining both pathogenic and protective factors. You can ask your dentist, after a dental checkup for additional measures, such as measuring the cavity risk (bacterial and salivary analysis). Your dentist may also recommend products that manage your tooth decay problems especially (antibacterial agents, topical fluoride, sealants, calcium and phosphate supplements, special toothpaste and mouthwash and pH neutralizers). This will help you maximize your oral health and diminish the risks.
Take care of your teeth the smart way. But if you are using all sorts of pH neutralizers and calcium/phosphate supplements you still have to brush your teeth daily, twice, use string floss and mouthwash and visit your dentist regularly.