Tooth Decay: 7 Terms to Know

a tooth model displays types of tooth decay

Tooth decay can happen to the best of us, but educating yourself on this potentially painful dental condition can help you prevent it in the first place. Below are seven important terms that relate to proper dental care.

1. Cavities

Cavities are holes in the teeth caused by tooth decay. If left untreated, cavities can cause tooth pain as well as more severe tooth decay. If you think you have a cavity, it is important to see your dentist for treatment.

2. Fillings

A filling is a treatment for a cavity. Fillings, usually made of silver or another material, are placed into the cavity. This helps close the hole, preventing more bacteria from getting in and causing further tooth decay.

3. Floss

Floss is used to remove food particles that hide between the teeth. While it can be an easy step to skip, it is vital in the prevention of tooth decay. Even with toothpaste and mouthwash, food particles trapped between the teeth can be left to create bacteria. Every dental hygiene routine should include flossing.

4. Fluoride

Fluoride works to prevent deterioration of teeth. As you eat and drink, the bacteria that form can weaken the enamel of your teeth. Fluoride can help to strengthen and replace tooth enamel, as well as making it more resistant to acidic foods. Many types of mouthwash and toothpaste contain fluoride, as does most public drinking water. You can also talk to your dentist about a fluoride treatment.

5. Mouthwash

Mouthwash works to remove tooth-decay-causing bacteria. By swishing mouthwash around your mouth, it can kill bacteria in hard to reach spots, such as near the gum line and on the back of your teeth. Mouthwash should be an important step in your dental hygiene routine, but it can also be used to rinse your mouth and kill bacteria when you are on-the-go.

6. Periodontists

Periodontists focus on preventing, diagnosing, and treating tooth decay and the other issues that tooth decay can cause. If your tooth decay is severe or you have long term problems with tooth decay, your dentist may also refer you to a periodontist for treatment.

7. Toothpaste

Finally, toothpaste is one of many tools that help you combat tooth-decay-causing bacteria. It works by scrubbing away bacteria and the acids they make, which can cause tooth decay. Brushing your teeth with toothpaste should be the first step in your dental hygiene routine. Toothpaste comes in a variety of options so use whichever one is best for your needs.