Rotten Teeth: Steps to Prevent It From Happening to You

The causes behind tooth decay are bacteria and food. Cavities develop over time leading to tooth decay. Here is how that process happens:

Plaque Forms

The mouth has a variety of bacteria, both good and bad for oral health. The bacteria behind the creation of plaque is of a sort that thrives on sugar found in drinks and foods. When this sugar coats the teeth, the bacteria feed on them and produce acids as an outcome. The acid occurrence will continue for about 20 minutes after eating; this leads to the development of bacterial plaque (the transparent, tacky substance forming on gums and teeth). If plaque is not removed while it's soft, it becomes firm and rough. It's problematic to remove, especially towards the back teeth, making it an excellent place for bacteria to reside.

Plaque attacks

Plaque generates acids that eat away and reduce the minerals in tooth enamel, the hard-protective coating of teeth. The first phase of cavities is when this erosion produces tiny holes and openings in the enamel. When the removal of the enamel begins, the bacteria and acid start to rub away at the dentin, the next covering of teeth. This layer is weak since it's softer and less resistant to acid.

Decay continues

If left untreated, the acid and bacteria will keep causing tooth decay deeper into the structure of the teeth. After eating through the enamel and dentin, the bacteria will migrate to the pulp and inner material of the tooth housing the nerves and blood vessels. When decay develops to this level, it may result in a bacterial infection that could lead to a tooth abscess. Symptoms, such as a severe toothache, pain, tooth sensitivity, and discomfort when biting down maybe experienced.

A few things that can put a tooth at high risk for decay:

  1. Smoking, or breathing in secondhand smoke.
  2. Diabetes.
  3. Eating high sugary or carbohydrate foods that feed the bacteria in the mouth.
  4. Not visiting a dentist for regular checkups and or screenings.

Having a dry mouth, or a small amount of saliva feeds bacteria. Saliva washes away sugars and food that damage teeth, protecting and remineralizing a tooth's enamel. A good amount of saliva helps prevent rotten teeth.


Often, when a cavity first develops symptoms do not occur. That's why scheduling a dentist appointment for regular checkups is essential for catching cavities before they cause damage to the teeth.

4 Ways to Prevent Tooth Decay:

  1. Brush the teeth after eating with toothpaste that has fluoride.
  2. It's best to brush after meals, no less than twice a day, using an interdental cleaner or floss to clean between teeth, avoid sugary substances.
  3. Rinse regularly.
  4. Using mouthwash containing fluoride decreases the development of cavities.
  5. Research the possibility of dental sealants.

Sealants are a shielding, plastic coating that cap off the grooves and crannies of teeth where bacteria and food tend to collect. They are placed in the chewing surface area of the back teeth and last up to ten years before needed to be replaced.

Keep up with regular dentist visits

Talk to the dentist about how often an appointment is needed to maintain oral health. Regular professional teeth cleaning, oral exams and other treatments can help avoid dental decay, rotten teeth, and spot problems early on. Learn more about how to prevent rotten teeth and what options a patient has.

Request an appointment in our Woodbridge dentist office here:

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