The Tooth Decay Process: How To Reverse It and Avoid a Cavity
If you don’t brush and floss well enough, or don’t do so with the right technique, your teeth might start to suffer from tooth decay.
In a nutshell, tooth decay is progressive damage that occurs to your teeth’s surface and eventually its roots, largely due to bacteria and plaque. The bacteria and plaque continuously convert sugars in your food into acids, which wear down the enamel layer of your teeth and eventually bore into the dentin and roots of your teeth.
Tooth decay broadly progresses through five stages:
The first initial demineralization stage occurs as the enamel – the hardest tissue in your body and a defensive layer for your teeth – is worn down
The second stage finishes enamel decay. The enamel layer of your teeth is worn completely away and can never be fully restored
The third stage occurs as dentin is destroyed from tooth decay. At this stage, tooth decay becomes more serious, as dentin contains tubes that lead to the nerves of your teeth. When dentin starts to decay, you may experience tooth sensitivity and extreme pain
In the fourth stage, the pulp of your teeth starts to decay. Tooth pulp contains blood vessels and nerves that keep the tooth healthy, but will eventually start to degrade over time and cause pain or increased sensitivity
- The fifth and final stage is characterized by tooth abscesses. As the tooth decay advances, bacteria invades further and causes an infection. Eventually, this can progress to a pocket of pus, called an abscess, forming near the bottom of your tooth
Any level of tooth decay is bad, but it’s important to know how to reverse tooth decay when you notice it happening ASAP.
How Can I Reverse Tooth Decay?
Fortunately, there are multiple ways to reverse tooth decay and halt its progress. If you catch it early enough, you might even repair the damage done without needing advanced dental work.
Brush with Fluoride Toothpaste
Always use fluoride toothpaste when brushing your teeth twice per day. Fluoride is an effective mineral that can prevent tooth decay by filling in the gaps of your teeth's enamel layer and reducing the effectiveness of bacterial acid.
In other words, fluoride contributes to the re-mineralization process. It can halt tooth decay so long as it is caught within the first two stages described above.
Fortunately, most high-quality toothpaste products contain plenty of fluoride.
Drink More Water
You should also drink more water from a community-connected water supply. That's because fluoride is present in tap water in most city and suburb systems in America. The more water you drink, the more fluoride your teeth will benefit from.
Additionally, drinking more water will wash bacteria down your throat and into your stomach, where it will be safely ingested and eventually expelled. Drinking water flushes your teeth and prevents food from sticking in between individual teeth as often.
Cut Down on Sugary Snacks
Furthermore, you can reverse tooth decay and avoid cavities by cutting down on how much sugary food you consume, especially snacks. Cut down on sugary snacks as much as possible, and the bacteria present in plaque will have less fuel to produce acid that attacks your teeth’s enamel layer and dentin.
As an added bonus, eating fewer sugary snacks is sure to result in greater bodily health overall!
Does Reversing Tooth Decay Prevent Cavities?
Yes, to a certain extent. You can only technically reverse tooth decay if bacteria haven’t progressed into the dentin of your teeth. If bacteria are only present in the enamel layer of your teeth, you can scrub them away with your toothbrush and fluoride and remineralize the enamel layer.
However, if bacteria are present in the dentin of your teeth and eventually reach the pulp of your teeth, a cavity is all but certain. There’s no way to remove the cavity without getting a filling from your dentist.
So, in other words, if you want to reverse tooth decay and prevent a cavity, you have to catch tooth decay early enough to make a difference.
What Should I Do to Avoid Cavities?
Cavities are no fun at all. Not only can they show up as discolored spots on your teeth, but they can also curse you with permanent bad breath until you get the cavities taken care of. Additionally, cavities come with a host of uncomfortable symptoms like tooth sensitivity, incessant aching, and intense pain whenever you eat or drink hot or cold food and beverages.
It’s a good idea to maintain a great tooth brushing routine to avoid cavities, plus follow the advice below.
Brush Your Teeth, Floss, and Use Mouthwash
As mentioned, always be sure to maintain a top-tier toothbrushing and dental hygiene routine. To do this:
Brush your teeth twice per day with fluoride toothpaste. We also recommend using an electric toothbrush if possible, as electric toothbrushes can do a better job of cleaning your teeth's surfaces than even the best manual toothbrush. Brush your teeth in two-minute sessions both times. The best electric toothbrushes, such as the Zina45 Sonic Pulse, contain automatic timers so you don't have to count in your head
Always floss alongside your brushing sessions. Flossing can get food and plaque out from in between your teeth and prevent cavities
- Finish your dental hygiene routine with mouthwash. Mouthwash makes it harder for plaque to create acid in the first place and sweeps away any remaining bacteria that might have been missed by your brush or the floss – Supersmile’s Oral Rinse Mouthwash is a perfect example of this in action
See Your Dentist Regularly
Following a great hygiene routine at home is just the start. You should also see your dentist bi-annually for a thorough cleaning. Your dentist can clean away even more plaque and bacteria and check for cavities or other major dental issues regularly so you aren't caught off guard.
Eat Tooth-Healthy Foods
Want to go the extra mile? Eat tooth-healthy foods like leafy green vegetables (which contain plenty of vitamins and minerals vital for tooth health) and be sure to take a calcium supplement or consume some dairy products without going overboard.
What Are the Early Signs of Tooth Decay?
Remember, you have the best chance of reversing tooth decay if you catch it early. With that in mind, here are the most common signs of tooth decay.
White spots on the surfaces of your teeth are an early sign of initial demineralization or the first stage of tooth decay. Don’t panic – this means you need to remineralize the enamel layer with fluoride toothpaste and great brushing technique.
If your teeth start to build up more and more plaque – which looks and feels like a white, filmy, and sticky substance – then it’s a good sign you need to brush more thoroughly and frequently. Plaque usually scrapes away with a good toothbrush and some pressure, but it can become hard tartar if left alone for long enough.
If you just can’t get rid of bad breath no matter how many mints you take, odds are there are bacteria in your mouth stinking up the place. Halitosis or bad breath is mostly caused by bacteria in the mouth, so floss a little more thoroughly and use mouthwash to get rid of bad breath.
What Are the Symptoms of a Cavity?
Of course, you’ll be able to tell pretty quickly if tooth decay has progressed to the point where you have one or more cavities.
Holes or Pits
Naturally, cavities are characterized by holes or pits in your teeth. Bacteria gradually chew through your teeth if left unchecked and will bore a hole straight to the roots of your teeth, requiring either a root canal or an extraction, along with some reconstructive work on the part of your dentist.
Regular or dark tooth stains may also be a sign of a cavity. But note that “regular” tooth discoloration will likely affect more space than cavity-related discoloration – tooth discoloration that only appears in a small spot is likely a sign of a cavity instead of a regular stain.
Pain When Biting, Eating, or Drinking
If you experience regular pain whenever you bite down on hard food or you drink hot or cold beverages, odds are you're suffering from one or more cavities. It likely means that the bacterial infection has reached the blood vessels and nerves of your teeth, causing increased sensitivity.
In the end, your best bet to reverse tooth decay and avoid cavities is to always maintain a top-tier tooth brushing routine. Be sure to use products with excellent and effective ingredients like fluoride and Calprox: the proprietary ingredient only found in Supersmile products.
In fact, Calprox was designed specifically by Dr. Irwin Smigel to whiten and clean your teeth without causing any sensitivity. You can find this innovative and advanced ingredient in all of our toothpaste products. Combine that with a great electric toothbrush and floss, and you’ll be well on your way to maximizing your dental health.