Little known fact: the most commonly cited medical disqualification for those called to fight in WWII was tooth decay and loss of teeth. Back then, there was little you could do to stop tooth decay. The importance of dental health cannot be overstated, which is why you need to know how to stop tooth decay in its tracks and how to prevent future decay.
Most people are aware that poor dental hygiene can cause gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath (1). However, did you know that gum disease and tooth decay both put you at a higher risk for diabetes, preterm labor, heart disease, and strokes (2)?
Since WWII, scientists in the field of dentistry have made incredible strides in the prevention and treatment of cavities, rotting teeth, and gum disease. While tooth decay was once thought to be incurable and irreversible, they have now identified ways to cure tooth decay and prevent cavities (3).
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Just like the rest of your body, there are both good and bad bacteria in the mouth. Good bacteria keeps things clean and helps keep bad bacteria from running amuck (5). Plaque, the sticky whitish film that covers your teeth after eating and drinking through the course of the day, is an example of harmful bacteria.
Sign up to get our free newsletter in your inbox daily.
Plaque and other bacteria rely on the sugars and starches in your food to produce an acid. It is this acid that eats away at the minerals and protective compounds in the enamel on your teeth and initiates tooth decay (6).
At this point, the tooth decay can be stopped or even reversed with the help of saliva and proper dental hygiene.
Natural toothpaste, for example, contains the minerals your mouth needs to remineralize your teeth.
You may notice spots on your teeth where the coloring is just slightly different than the rest of your tooth. This is an early sign of tooth decay and indicates a spot where enamel can still be rebuilt/remineralized.
It’s important to remember, however, that enamel can only rebuild on existing enamel. Once that protective coating is lost from that spot, a cavity can form.