All Posts tagged tooth decay

All You Need to Know about Cavities

All You Need to Know about Cavities

To understand what happens when your teeth decay, it’s helpful to know what’s in your mouth naturally. Here are a few of the elements:

  • Saliva — Your mouth and teeth are constantly bathed in saliva. We never give much thought to our spit, but this fluid is remarkable for what it does to help protect our oral health. Saliva keeps teeth and other parts of your mouth moist and washes away bits of food. Saliva contains minerals that strengthen teeth. It includes buffering agents. They reduce the levels of acid that can decay teeth. Saliva also protects against some viruses and bacteria.
  • Plaque — Plaque is a soft, gooey substance that sticks to the teeth a bit like jam sticks to a spoon. Like the slime that clings to the bottom of a swimming pool, plaque is a type of biofilm. It contains large numbers of closely packed bacteria, components taken from saliva, and bits of food. Also in the mix are bacterial byproducts and white blood cells. Plaque grows when bacteria attach to the tooth and begin to multiply. Plaque starts forming right after a tooth is cleaned. Within an hour, there’s enough to measure. As time goes on, the plaque thickens. Within two to six hours, the plaque teems with bacteria that can cause cavities and periodontal (gum) disease.
  • Calculus — If left alone long enough, plaque absorbs minerals from saliva. These minerals form crystals and harden into calculus. Then new plaque forms on top of existing calculus. This new layer can also become hard.
  • Bacteria — We have many types of bacteria in our mouths. Some bacteria are good; they help control destructive bacteria. When it comes to decay, Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacilli are the bacteria that cause the most damage to teeth.


How Your Teeth Decay

The bacteria in your mouth need food to live and multiply. When you eat sugary foods, or even starches such as rice, the bacteria use them as food, too. The bacteria then produce acids that can dissolve tooth enamel (outer layer of the tooth).

It’s not just candy and ice cream we’re talking about. All carbohydrate foods eventually break down into simple sugars. Some of this process begins in the mouth.

Foods that break down into simple sugars in the mouth are called fermentable carbohydrates. These include the obvious sugary foods, such as cookies, cakes, soft drinks and candy. But they also include pretzels, crackers, bananas, potato chips and breakfast cereals.

Bacteria in your mouth turn the sugars in these foods into acids. These acids begin to dissolve the mineral crystals in teeth. The more times you eat each day, the more times your teeth are exposed to an acid attack.

This attack can lead to tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities. First, the acid begins to dissolve calcium and phosphate crystals inside a tooth. A white spot may appear on the enamel in this weakened area. But the loss of minerals develops beneath the surface of the enamel. The surface may still be smooth.

At this stage, the tooth can be repaired with the help of fluoride, proteins and minerals (calcium and phosphate) in the saliva. The saliva also helps reduce the acid levels from bacteria that attack the tooth.

Once the decay breaks through the enamel to cause a cavity, the damage is permanent. It is important to get immediate treatment with Dr. Jaleel. Left untreated, the decay will get worse. It can destroy a tooth all the way through the enamel, through the inside dentin layer and down to the pulp or nerve of the tooth. That’s why it is important to treat caries at a very early stage, when the process can be reversed.

Preventing Cavities

Do you or your family members get cavities often? Dental research has found out that certain factors can affect your risk of tooth decay. These factors include:

  • The current number of decayed or filled teeth
  • Your fluoride exposure, including fluoride in drinking water, toothpaste and rinses, and fluoride treatments in the dental office
  • Parents or siblings with dental decay
  • How well you take care of your teeth
  • The amount of saliva and the balance of minerals, enzymes and buffering agents it contains
  • How often and what types of foods you eat

Ask Dr. Jaleel, your Ottawa dentist about the best ways to reduce your risks and limit dental decay.

To prevent your teeth from decaying, you can do three things:

  • Strengthen your teeth’s defenses with fluoride, sealants and agents that contain calcium and phosphate ions.
  • Have Dr. Jaleel or one of our dental hygienists place sealants on your back teeth.
  • Reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth.

Most importantly, visit Dr. Jaleel regularly at the Fairlawn Dental Clinic in Nepean. We can find any decay early, when it can be treated and reversed.


Sweat, Tears, and Tooth Decay: Athletes’ Dirty Little Secret

Sweat, Tears, and Tooth Decay: Athletes’ Dirty Little Secret

It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s an Olympic Athlete with Dental Issues?

Known for being the fastest, strongest and toughest people, Olympic athletes in the Olympic Games have always been admired and respected. But it is not a secret that these athletes sacrifice a lot to be where they are today; from rigorous workout routines to long practice sessions, an athlete’s body suffers through a variety of ailments. From a torn ACL to a herniated disk, injuries have caused many of the world’s best athletes to be left on the sideline. Yet, it was something else that almost cost British rower, Alan Campbell, to miss the 2008 Beijing Olympics. An abscessed (pus build-up in the pulp of the teeth) lower-left wisdom teeth was neglected and the infection spread to his shoulder, back, and right knee. This meant that the rower required knee surgery 2 months prior the Games, interfering with his final preparations, and resulting in a 5th-place finish at the single-sculls final. Learning from his mistake, Alan Campbell took Bronze in his discipline at the 2012 London Olympics after taking better care of his teeth. To prevent an infection of your wisdom teeth, visit Dr. Jaleel, your Ottawa dentist, to determine whether it is wise to pull your wisdom teeth out, before they begin to cause problems.


A Bronze Medal from the 2012 London Olympic Games, which British rower, Alan Campbell received by finishing third in the Men’s single-sculls. After proper dental care, Campbell improved from his previous result of a fifth place finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Why are Athletes Prone to Tooth Decay, Cavities and Gum Disease?

During the 2012 London Olympic Games, the athletes’ village was home to a dental clinic, which employed 30 dentists. During the span of the Games, the athletes paid these 30 dentists 1,900 visits. A study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that, of the 278 dental clinic’s visitors at the Olympic Games, 55% had cavities, 3/4th of them had diseased gums, and 1/4th said dental problems affected their quality of life. So why are athletes so prone to dental issues? A combination of these factors may be at play:

1) The consumption of energy drinks: Many energy drinks contain a high sugar content, which means more resources for bacteria to grow on your teeth. This nutrition fact sheet created by the University of California Davis shows that most of the energy drinks we are familiar with contain sugar (and lots of it). In one particular case, almost 90 grams of sugar was found in one container (3 servings, 27 g of sugar per serving).

2) Dehydration: Excessive sweating can slow down the the production of saliva, which is needed to regenerate tooth enamel. Once the domino falls, a chain reaction is initiated, leading to tooth decay.

3) Frequent travelling and a busy schedule: Whether you are a world-famous Olympic athlete or the star of your local soccer team, one thing is for certain: it’s hard to find time for yourself between practices and travelling to competitions. That’s why many opt to skip their regular dental cleaning, neglecting their dental health.

4) Participation in activities that involve teeth clenching, or simply nerves: Probably the oddest one on the list, but with disciplines such as weightlifting, a lot of pressure is put on athletes’ jaws and teeth as they maneuvers the weight above their head. This is why, you’ll see weightlifters wear sports mouth guards to protect their teeth from all that pressure.  But even if you’re not into weightlifting, sometimes the nerves and the expectations of a competition gets to you and your teeth suffers with you. As Alan Campbell notes his 2004 Athens Olympics experience: “I was grinding my teeth in my sleep and I was waking up with a very sore jaw and sore teeth as well and I had a special gum-shield to wear at night to sleep with. That was the stress. It was my first Olympics. I think I was feeling the pressure.”

If you or someone in your family is involved in recreational or professional sports, we highly recommend you to book an appointment with us at the Fairlawn Dental Clinic in Ottawa, With over 25 years of experience as a dentist in Ottawa, Dr. Jaleel is equipped with knowledge and experience to provide you and your love ones with the perfect dental care.

Call or Book an Appointment Online today!


2194 Carling Avenue, Unit 1

Ottawa, ON K2A 1H3