Date
16 December 2017
Parents find their children's oral health quite a challenge. Tooth decay occurs in short duration in primary teeth. Photo: Internet
Parents find their children's oral health quite a challenge. Tooth decay occurs in short duration in primary teeth. Photo: Internet

Four things that cause tooth decay

Patients often ask why they have tooth decay when they brush their teeth regularly.

Tooth decay occurs in short duration in primary teeth, resulting in frequent toothache.

Here is where parents find their children’s oral health quite a challenge.

There are four factors leading to tooth decay — time, bacteria, food (sugar) and host (teeth).

Tooth decay is a chemical process that takes time.

When the wear and tear on the tooth surface occurs on the enamel, the process is relatively slow.

By contrast, dentine tooth decay takes place in the calcified tissue of the teeth and spreads germs more easily because of the higher water and collagen content.

A healthy oral cavity is not necessarily free of germs. What matters is the balance of good and bad germs.

When bad germs are outnumbered, more acid is produced that attacks the enamel more aggressively.

Most people follow a balanced diet but those who have a sweet tooth are more vulnerable to tooth decay.

Food that is rich in sugar and starch fuels acid production.

People should limit between-meal snacks to reduce acid attacks on teeth and give them a chance to repair themselves.

Last but not least, it is necessary to brush regularly and thoroughly.

Those who have braces and have temporary gaps between their teeth should pay special care and attention.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 29.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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DY/JP/RA

Registered dentist, Diploma of Membership of the Faculty of General Dental Practitioners of the Royal College of Surgeons of England

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