The number of children in England having their teeth removed because of decay has increased for the fourth year in a row, new figures suggest.Children in England drank more sugary drinks than anywhere in Europe.Tooth decay is caused by plaque collecting, in particular, around the gum line, the edges of fillings and the grooved surfaces of the teeth.
- When you consume food and drink high in carbohydrates – particularly sugary foods and drinks – the bacteria in plaque turn the carbohydrates into energy they need, producing acid at the same time.
- Regularly cleaning your teeth can remove plaque, but if it’s allowed to build up, it can begin to break down the surface of your tooth.
- Plaque is made up of food debris, saliva and bacteria normally present in the mouth.
- The acids generated by bacteria breaking food down can begin to attack tooth enamel within 20 minutes of a meal.
- If plaque is allowed to collect over time it will harden into tartar.
- Both tartar and plaque contain acids which, over time, can dissolve the protective, hard, enamel coating of the tooth and create holes, or cavities.
- Most cavities form over a period of months, or even years.
- They are usually painless, but they can grow very large and damage the much softer internal structures of the tooth such as the dentin and the pulp, which is found at the core.
- If they remain untreated, they can kill the nerve and blood vessels of the tooth, and ultimately the tooth itself.
- The most obvious sign of tooth decay is toothache and pits or holes may also be visible in the teeth.
- Eating food and drink high in carbohydrates, particularly snacking regularly between meals, will increase your risk of tooth decay, according to the NHS.
- Tooth decay is often associated with sugary food and drink.
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