The Value of a Dental Check up More than just looking for decay

Dental Check-up: More than just looking for decay

In my last Blog, I discussed the benefits of a check up in the early detection of tooth decay but a dental check up involves so much more than just looking for tooth decay.

The dentist will also look for signs of premature wear from clenching & grinding. Early detection & implementing preventative strategies can potentially same thousands of dollars over the long term. Not to mention saving you many hours of operative dental treatment!

As dentists we also look for signs of acid erosion which has become more frequent with the increasing consumption of acidic beverages. Another cause of damage to teeth most people do not consider is that caused by incorrect brushing technique – either brushing too hard, using a hard bristle brush or both.

How Does Sugar Cause Tooth Decay

How Does Sugar Cause Tooth Decay?

Bacteria in our mouths use sugars as their food source. The bacteria that cause tooth decay are unable to use proteins, fats or fibre to survive. Consequently a diet high in whole grains, meats, fish, fresh fruit and vegetables & dairy foods is a diet that is unlikely to contribute to tooth decay. Incidentally, this is also a diet most nutritionists would recommend for good overall health.

Once the bacteria in our mouths have used the sugars in our diet, they produce acid as a waste product. It is actually the acid that softens the hard outer shell of the tooth (enamel). Eventually the enamel cavitates and the bacteria enter the tooth. The process of acid softening happens every time we eat something with sugar.

The Value of a Dental Check up - Early detection of tooth decay

The Value of a Dental Check up : Early detection of tooth decay

When most people think about a dental check up, their impression is that the dentist is looking for cavities or holes in teeth. A comment I hear frequently is, “I can’t feel any holes in my teeth” or “I am not having any pain so I don’t really need a check up.” This statement highlights two misconceptions.

The first is that tooth decay is an actual hole in the tooth. Tooth decay is a bacterial infection of the tooth. Bacteria use sugar to produce acid. The acid softens the outer enamel & allows the bacteria to enter the tooth. A well advanced infection can be present without any noticeable cavitation of the tooth surface.