As Winchester dentists, a huge part of what we do is about preventing and repairing the effects of tooth decay. But just what is tooth decay?

What is tooth decay?

You may not like to think about it but your mouth (and everyone else’s) is full of bacteria. When you eat some of these bacteria combine with your saliva and food to create plaque. Plaque is the sticky substance that builds on your teeth each day that then gets removed by brushing. But if the plaque isn’t brushed, flossed or washed away it can harden to become tartar (the yellow or brownish substance we remove during a scale and polish).

When plaque bacteria ‘feed’ off starchy or sugary foods they produce acid. Over time, this acid can break down the surface a tooth, eventually exposing the nerve within. That’s when you’ll experience toothache. Other problems caused by tooth decay can include pain when eating or drinking, discoloured spots on your teeth, and abscesses.

How many people get tooth decay?

Around 31% of people (adults and children) have tooth decay.

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: Reduce the amount of sugary foods and drinks you consume, particularly between meals. Try to avoid them completely in the hour before you go to bed.

• Brush your teeth properly: Brushing removes plaque and helps prevent the plaque acid and tarter from attacking your teeth. 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. Try to stick to a regular brushing routine so you don’t miss parts of your mouth.
– Use the right amount of fluoride for you (ask your Winchester dentist details).
– Take 2 minutes to brush – use a stopwatch or egg-timer to help. Remember that 2 minutes of careful brushing is far better than a quick ‘blast’ of vigorous brushing. Brush too hard, too fast and you could damage the enamel of some teeth, while missing others altogether.
– Spit out any excess toothpaste after brushing, but don’t rinse your mouth. Let the toothpaste do its job.

• Visit your Winchester dentist: Visit us regularly at Oliver’s Battery Dental Surgery and we’ll help keep your teeth decay-free.

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

Lots of people visit our Winchester dental surgery for the first time only after tooth decay has been allowed to get out of hand. If it’s a while since you visited your dentist, it’s really important that you make an appointment with us now. Then we can halt the damage being done to your teeth.

We’ll then look at ways of repairing the damage (for example, with fillings or a crown).

Make your appointment

Keep tooth decay at bay. Visit our Winchester 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 01962 877 877.