Tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities, is among the most prevalent oral diseases. It’s almost among the most preventable.
When the bacteria in your mouth break down food, it produces acids that can severely damage the enamel (the hard part of your teeth).
Symptoms of tooth decay include:
- Sudden toothache or pain with no apparent cause
- Pain when eating/drinking something cold, hot or sweet
- Pain when you bite down
- Tooth sensitivity
- Visible pits or holes in your teeth
- Staining on any surface of a tooth
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay can occur in the topmost part of the tooth that comes into direct contact with food particles, and also between the teeth. Bacteria fester in these two areas and pose oral health risks as they break down sugar from leftover food and convert it into acids that demineralize enamel.
As the enamel breaks down, the calcium and phosphate structures of the teeth deteriorate. Over time, the acid penetrates deep into the tooth, causing it to rot from the inside out.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay
Good oral hygiene is key to your oral health — and your overall health. Here are a few tips.
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily with fluoride-containing toothpaste after eating or drinking, ideally after every meal, and clean between your teeth using an interdental cleaner or floss.
- If you’re at high risk of developing cavities, consider using a fluoride-containing mouth rinse.
- Get professional regular oral exams and teeth cleanings to help spot and prevent oral health issues.
- Avoid frequent snacking and drinking beverages that cause your mouth bacteria to produce acid.
- Go for tooth-healthy foods and beverages (fresh fruits/vegetables, unsweetened coffee/tea, sugar-free gum, etc.) to increase saliva flow and help wash away food particles.
- In some cases, your dentist may recommend periodic fluoride treatments, antibacterial mouth rinses, xylitol-based gum and other treatments to help reduce the harmful bacteria in your mouth.
Treatments for Tooth Decay
The severity of tooth decay determines which treatment is most suitable. The options include:
- Fluoride Treatments. This treatment may help restore the enamel and possibly reverse tooth decay in the very early stages.
- Fillings. Also known as restorations, fillings are the primary treatment for severe tooth decay. Fillings can be made of dental amalgam, porcelain or tooth-colored composite resins.
- Crowns. For extensive tooth decay, you may need a custom-fitted crown to replace your natural crown. Crowns may be made of resin, high-strength porcelain, gold, etc.
- Root Canals. This treatment is for tooth decay that has reached the inner part of your tooth. Instead of removing the tooth, your oral surgeon repairs the badly infected or damaged tooth by removing the infected or damaged path.
- Tooth Extractions. If the tooth is too severely decayed to be restored, your oral surgeon may have to remove it. In that case, you can replace the missing tooth with a dental implant or bridge.
Compassionate Dental Care
Synergy Dental Implant and Oral Surgery Center provide high-quality dental health services with procedures ranging from wisdom teeth extractions to dental implants. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.