As a Bristol dentist, a huge part of our work is preventing and repairing the effects of tooth decay. But just what is tooth decay?

What is Tooth Decay?

Everybody’s mouth is full of bacteria. When you eat, the bacteria, your saliva and food particles combine to create a sticky substance called plaque. If the plaque is allowed to harden on your teeth it becomes tartar (the yellow or brownish material we remove during a scale and polish).

The bacteria in plaque ‘feeds’ off starchy or sugary foods and produces acid as a by-product. It’s this acid that, over time, can break down the surface of a tooth. Left untreated the outside of the tooth will be completely destroyed, exposing the nerve within. That’s when you’ll experience toothache. Other long term problems could include gum disease or abscesses, while in the earlier stages you may experience pain when eating or drinking or notice discoloured spots on your teeth.

How many people get tooth decay?

Far more than you might think. An estimated 31% of adults have tooth decay, as do a similar number of children (including those just starting school).

How do I prevent tooth decay?

Tooth decay is much easier to prevent than it is to treat. Here’s how you can keep tooth decay at bay:

• Diet: Cut down sugary foods and drinks, particularly between meals. Try to avoid them completely in the hour before you go to bed.

• Brush your teeth properly: Brushing removes plaque and prevents the build-up of the acid that attacks your teeth and the tarter that can coat them. Most of us brush our teeth twice a day, but not enough of us brush our teeth properly. Here’s how you can put that right:

– Brush every surface of your teeth – front, back and the biting surfaces.
– Use the right amount of fluoride for you (ask us for details).
– Take 2 minutes to brush – use a stopwatch or egg-timer to help.
– 2 minutes of careful brushing is far better than a shorter period of vigorous brushing as that can damage tooth enamel just as much as acid.
– Spit out any excess toothpaste after brushing, but don’t rinse your mouth. Let the toothpaste do its job.

• Visit your Bristol dentist: Visit us regularly at Lodge Causeway Dental Centre and we’ll keep your teeth decay-free with check-ups and the occasional scale and polish if necessary.

What if my teeth have already been damaged by tooth decay?

We meet lots of people who visit our Bristol dental surgery for the first time only after letting their tooth decay get out of hand. If you haven’t visited a dentist for some time, it’s really important that you make an appointment with us now, and we can stop the damage that’s being done to your teeth.

We can then look at ways of repairing the damage that’s been done (for example, with fillings or a crown).

Make your appointment

Keep tooth decay at bay. Visit our Bristol dental surgery and let us give you a healthier smile. You can make an appointment using the form on the right, or call us on 0117 958 68 78.

Find out more

You can read more about tooth decay and its treatment here.

Dental services from your Bristol dentist

Call 0117 9586 878

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