Dental decay is caused by the bacteria in your mouth feeding off sugar in your diet and causing holes/cavities in the teeth known as dental caries. There are usually no symptoms but sometimes the teeth can be sensitive. If the dental decay gets into the nerve of the tooth, it will cause it to become painful and sometimes an abscess will develop. Dental decay needs to be removed by the dentist to prevent it getting bigger. Then a filling placed into the cavity to seal the tooth.
Reducing the FREQUENCY of sugar intakes is the most important factor in reducing decay. Every time you eat or drink anything, the effect of the sugar will stay in your mouth for 20 minutes after. If you graze on food and drinks throughout the day you are more likely to get decay than someone who eats less often.
We suggest only eating and drinking 5 times in a day - this would be 3 meals and 2 snacks. Teeth will decay if they have any additional sugar attacks so only drink water (still and unflavoured) outside of these times.
Keeping the teeth clean and using a fluoridated toothpaste is also important to keeping teeth healthy.
What can we do to help?
Visiting the dentist regularly allows the dentist to check for any holes in the teeth. If the dentist is worried that you are at risk of developing dental decay, they can put a fluoride varnish on the teeth or give you a prescription for a stronger fluoride toothpaste. Fissure sealants are sometimes placed on newly erupted teeth to add a coating to them to make them easier to clean and help prevent decay.