Which foods cause tooth decay?
Sugary food and drinks are one of the main causes of tooth decay.
Acid is produced when the bacteria in your mouth break down the sugar.
The acid dissolves the tooth surface, which is the first stage of tooth decay.
Sugar in food and drinks
Some sugars occur naturally in food and drink, such as fruit, honey and milk.
The naturally occurring sugar in dried fruit, such as raisins, dates and apricots, can also contribute to tooth decay.
Other foods have sugar added to them by the manufacturer, which is sometimes called processed food.
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- cakes and biscuits
- soft drinks such as cola as well as fruit juice
- sweets and chocolate
- flavoured milks and yoghurts
- sugary breakfast cereals and cereal bars
- fruit canned in syrup
- sauces and syrups, such as some pasta sauces, marinades and ketchup.
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A bridge is a fixed replacement for a missing tooth or teeth. It’s made by taking an impression of the surrounding teeth, which will eventually support the bridge.
A bridge is usually created from precious metal and porcelain and will be fixed in your mouth (unlike dentures, which can be removed).
A crown is a type of cap that completely covers a real tooth. It’s made from either metal, or porcelain and metal, and is fixed in your mouth.
Crowns can be fitted where a tooth has broken, decayed or been damaged, or just to make a tooth look better.
To fit a crown, the old tooth will need to be drilled down so it’s like a small peg the crown will be fixed on to.
It can take some time for the lab to prepare a new crown, so you probably won’t have the crown fitted on the same day.
Fillings are used to repair a hole in a tooth caused by decay. The most common type of filling is an amalgam, made from a mixture of metals including mercury, silver, tin, copper, and zinc.
Your dentist will offer the most appropriate type of filling according to your clinical needs. This includes white fillings, if appropriate.
Root canal treatment
Root canal treatment (also called endodontics) tackles infection at the center of a tooth (the root canal system).
When the blood or nerve supply of the tooth has become infected, the infection will spread and the tooth may need to be taken out if root canal treatment isn’t carried out.
During treatment, all the infection is removed from inside the root canal system.
The root canal is filled and the tooth is sealed with a filling or crown to stop it from becoming infected again.
Root canal treatment usually requires 2 or 3 visits to your dentists.
Scale and polish
This is when your teeth are professionally cleaned by the hygienist. It involves carefully removing the deposits that build upon the teeth (tartar).
Braces (orthodontic treatment) straighten or move teeth to improve the appearance of the teeth and how they work.
Braces can be removable, so you can take them out and clean them, or fixed, so they’re stuck to your teeth and you can’t take them out.
They can be made of metal, plastic or ceramic. Invisible braces are made of clear plastic.
Braces are available on the NHS for children and, occasionally, for adults, depending on the clinical need.