Tooth decay is one of the most common dental issues, with nearly 90% of adults aged 20 to 64 having had decay in their teeth! Causing pain and discomfort, with the advanced severity of the decay potentially leading to tooth extraction, tooth decay is no laughing matter and is something to take seriously. In this blog, we explore the causes, symptoms, preventatives, and treatments to help you regain your dazzling smile!
What is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay, also known as cavities or dental caries, occurs when the enamel and dentin of the teeth are damaged and worn down by acids produced by oral bacteria. This process also involves demineralisation and can break down the tooth’s structure.
Causes of Tooth Decay:
There are a range of causes:
- Diet – overconsumption of sugary or starchy foods or beverages
- Poor Oral Hygiene – from a lack of brushing or flossing
- Bacteria and Plaque
- Dry Mouth – caused by a lack of saliva to wash away food and beverage particles
- Genetics and Vulnerability – tooth enamel structure, salivary flow, tooth alignment
Symptoms of Tooth Decay:
Regarding decay, there are typically not so many symptoms; however, here are a few of the common ones:
- Tooth Sensitivity
- Visible Cavities
- Bad Breath
- Facial Swelling or Fever – if there is an infection
There are a variety of preventative measures to put in place to avoid decay. Some include:
- Good Oral Hygiene – regularly brushing and flossing
- Diet – consuming less sugary and starchy foods and beverages
- Fluoride – helps to build the enamel of the tooth
- Regular Dental Check-Up’s– a specialist is able to monitor the progress or deterioration of teeth
Diagnosis and Treatments:
Dentists and dental experts usually diagnose decay through visual examinations and X-rays. From there, they can recommend a range of treatments to help the healing of decay based on its progress.
For Early-Stage Decay:
- Fluoride Gel or Paste – your dentist will apply the product to help protect your teeth by strengthening the enamel, thus making it more resistant to acids from the plaque that cause decay
For More Advanced Decay:
- Dental Fillings or Crowns – the dental decay is removed by numbing the tooth and filling the hole (with anaesthetic)
- Root Canal Therapy – happens when the decay has spread to the centre of the tooth
- Tooth Extraction – if the tooth is severely damaged and can be restored, a tooth extraction may be necessary. Potentially, the dentist could replace the tooth with a partial denture or implant.
As you can gather from the blog, as well as being one of the most common, tooth decay is also reversible if it has not advanced too far. With the clarity and guidance in this blog, we hope we have helped with any questions you may have had. If you or someone you know is experiencing decay or a similar issue, please don’t hesitate to contact us and book an appointment to see a dental specialist!