Tooth Decay and your Health

tooth decay and your health

Tooth decay is a very common problem, but did you know that it can easily be avoided?

This month we are going to look into what tooth decay is, and how to prevent it… which can be done in just a few steps each day.

Tooth decay is damage to your teeth caused by a build-up of plaque. Plaque, which is a yellow film that builds up on your teeth throughout the day, reacts with the sugars we consume in our diet. This, in turn, produces an acid that can be very harmful to your teeth if not removed.

This acid will start breaking down the enamel on your teeth, which over time will cause cavities and can lead to a hole in your tooth. If the plaque is still not removed at this stage, the bacteria and acid produced will then start to attack the inside of your tooth, including the nerves. Not only will this be extremely painful, but it will also mean significant dental treatment to fix the issue.

Tooth Decay and your Health

Tooth decay can affect your general health in many ways. It can impact your day-to-day life significantly. The pain that comes with tooth decay could mean lack of sleep, sick days from work, and missing social events, to name a few. This, over time, can greatly impact your mental wellbeing.

Not only this but there has been extensive research into the impact poor oral hygiene can have on your general health. There have been links to increased risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease due to poor dental hygiene.


The earliest signs of tooth decay may only be noticeable to professionals, which is why we recommend going to see your dentist every 6 months. At this early stage, it is easy to treat the tooth, and put easy steps in place to prevent it from progressing or happening again. The next stages of tooth decay will start to become more noticeable to you. These include:

  • Sensitivity to sweet foods and drinks
  • Dark marks starting to appear on your teeth
  • Toothache

If you notice any of these symptoms, we recommend seeing your dentist. This is especially true if it has been over 6 months since seeing your dentist.


Tooth decay can be easily prevented with a simple dental hygiene routine. Unlike a build-up of dirt on your hands which is very noticeable, a build-up on your teeth may not be as obvious. For this reason, your dental hygiene can often be left out of your personal hygiene routine. The following will reduce your risk of getting tooth decay:

  • Limit your intake of sugar.
  • Avoid snacking continuously throughout the day.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes each time.
  • Use interdental brushes to remove plaque from inbetween the teeth.
  • Make sure you are changing your toothbrush every 2-3 months, and always choose a toothbrush with a soft head.
  • Visit your dentist every 6 months.

As we said, keeping tooth decay away can be very easy. You just need to ensure you have a consistent oral hygiene routine.

Additional information

The Oral Health Foundation is running a campaign focusing on tooth decay. They have great 4 podcasts on this topic if you would like to learn more.

If you are looking for more information, or are afraid you may be showing signs of tooth decay, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Waterford Perio.

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