It’s one of the most common dental problems these days, usually caused by overindulgence in carbohydrates (sugars and starches) such as soda, fruits, bread, milk cakes, or candies. The real problem is failure to brush and floss teeth afterwards adequately.
There are many myths about tooth decay, so let’s decode them and learn the real reason it occurs. It’s essential to know why it happens so you can act in time and avoid a dental emergency.
What Causes Teeth To Decay?
Bacteria contribute to dental rotting or decay. When combined with food, these bacteria build a soft, sticky coating known as plaque.
Plaque begins to take over the teeth and further damages them by producing acids from the sugar and starch in your diet and beverages. The acids eat away at the minerals in your enamel. Over time, plaque can harden into tartar, which irritates the gums and causes gum disease.
Fluoride in toothpaste promotes enamel repair by replacing minerals when paired with your saliva. Every human tooth goes through this natural process of remineralization.
Tooth enamel loses minerals if you don’t clean your teeth, eat a lot of starchy foods, and consume sugary drinks. As a result, tooth decay occurs, eventually causing toothache that may cause you to seek dental emergency assistance.
Tooth discolouration indicates something is wrong as a white blotch appears where minerals have been depleted. This is a sign of dental decay in its early stages.
However, you can still stop or reverse the degeneration at this point.
You won’t need an emergency dentist (just yet) if you take better care of your teeth and avoid sugary/starchy meals and drinks. The enamel can still mend, and provided you brush and floss your teeth more regularly, you can avoid a dental emergency.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Tooth Decay And Cavities?
Now that you know what causes teeth to decay, how can you tell if you have tooth decay or not?
Most people can’t detect the signs of tooth decay until it’s too late which is why it’s important to attend regular check-ups with the dentist. Tooth decay can lead to the following symptoms as it progresses:
- A toothache
- Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
- White or brown stains on the surface of a tooth
- An abscess (a pus-filled pocket) that can result from an infection
Pain, swelling of the cheeks, and fever are all signs of tooth decay, bringing you one step closer to the emergency dentist.
What Are The Types Of Cavities?
Dental decay can damage all layers of a tooth. It might take up to three years for a cavity in the solid outer layer of tooth enamel to appear. The decay of the dentin (middle layer) accelerates the decay of the pulp (innermost layer).
The pulp contains a tooth’s nerve terminals and blood supply. Tooth decay can lead to various cavities:
Smooth surface: Over time, this cavity dissolves tooth enamel. Tooth decay of this sort is common amongst adults in their twenties. Gum disease can be prevented and even reversed with proper brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings.
Pit and fissure decay: Cavities usually appear on the tooth’s chewing surface. The front of back teeth can also start decaying. Pit and fissure deterioration usually begins in adolescence and advances swiftly.
Root decay: This is usually a problem in older people with receding gums. Gum recession exposes the tooth’s root to plaque and acid. Root decay is difficult to avoid and treat.
So now we know what causes teeth to decay and have identified the different types of cavities, how can they be treated?
Cavity and Tooth Decay Treatments
Cavities and tooth decay can be treated in various ways. The severity of the problem determines the sort of therapy you receive:
Fluoride treatments: Fluoride treatment can make a tooth more resistant to acid attacks from sugars and plaque bacteria in the mouth and help reverse early tooth decay.
Fillings: A dentist uses a filling to treat a cavity or small hole in a tooth. The decayed tissue is removed and the tooth restored with either an amalgam or tooth-coloured resin filling.
A root canal: This procedure may be required if the tooth has been injured and the infection has spread to the pulp. The dentist will clean the inside of the root canal, remove any decayed pulp, and take out the nerve. The next step is to fill the tooth with a temporary filling. At a later date (once any infection has cleared), a permanent filling will be placed and a dental crown may be added to provide strength and protection.
If the pulp damage is too severe to treat, the tooth may have to be extracted. Our dentist may propose a partial bridge or a dental implant to replace the missing tooth. Without replacing the missing tooth, the teeth on each side of the gap may move, causing your bite to change.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what causes teeth to decay. But, if the damage has already been done, then we’re here to help.
Are Your Teeth Decayed?
At Parramatta Dental Green Dental, we offer a wide range of treatments to treat tooth decay and cavities to help restore a healthy mouth and confident smile. If you’re suffering from gum disease or decayed teeth then why not schedule a consultation with our friendly and gentle all-female team. We’ll soon put the smile back on your face. Book online or call us on (02) 9158 6211 today.
World Health Organization: Oral Health
WebMD: What to Know About Remineralizing Teeth
Healthline: What You Need To Know About Your Tooth Pulp