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Cavities and Dental Decay: All the Things You Should Know About

July 26, 2021

What is Dental Decay?

Damage to a tooth’s surface, or enamel, is known as dental decay. It occurs when bacteria in your mouth produce acids that eat away your teeth’ enamel. 

Cavities (dental caries) are holes in your teeth caused by tooth decay. If left untreated, dental decay can lead to discomfort, infection, and even tooth loss.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Cavities and Tooth Decay?

You normally don’t notice any symptoms of early tooth decay. Tooth decay can lead to a variety of problems as it progresses.

  • Having a toothache (tooth pain)
  • Sweet, hot, or chilly tooth sensitivity
  • Stains on the surface of a tooth that is white or brown in color.
  • An infection can lead to the formation of an abscess (a pus-filled pocket).
  • Pain, face swelling, and fever is all symptoms of an abscess.

What Are the Causes of Tooth Decay?

Bacteria abound in our mouths and some bacteria can be beneficial.

However, some, such as those that contribute to tooth decay, can be harmful.

Plaque is formed when bacteria interact with food to form a soft, sticky coating.

Plaque bacteria produce acids from the sugar and starch in your food and drink. The acids start to chip away your enamel’s minerals.

Fluoride is found in toothpaste, water, and other products. This fluoride, in combination with your saliva, aids enamel healing by replacing minerals.

All-day long, your teeth go through this normal process of losing and regaining minerals. 

However, if tooth decay persists, more minerals will be lost. Enamel weakens and deteriorates over time, resulting in a cavity.

A cavity is a hole in your tooth that is filled with bacteria. The best dentist must use a filling to fix the irreversible damage.

Also Read: How Long Does a Root Canal Last?

Who is Susceptible to Dental Decay?

  • Tooth decay is caused by not caring for your teeth effectively and eating and drinking too many sugary or starchy foods and beverages.
  • Because of the consumption of drugs or due to certain disorders or cancer treatments, your body doesn’t make enough saliva.
  • There isn’t enough fluoride in your diet.
  • Your age plays an important role too. Bottle-drinking babies and toddlers are in danger, especially if they are fed juice or have bottles at bedtime. Sugars are exposed to their teeth for long periods of time as a result of this.

How are Cavities and Tooth Decay Diagnosed?

By looking at your teeth and probing them with dental devices, dentists can typically detect tooth disease and cavities.

Your dentist will also inquire about any symptoms you are experiencing. A dental x-ray may be required on occasion.

At Kirkland Premier Dentistry Dr. Gaurav Sharma has 400+ hours of Continuing education from the prestigious AAID (American Academy of Implant Dentistry)

He applies the latest research & advances in dentistry to provide the best dental care to patients.

What Are the Treatments for Cavities and Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay and cavities can be treated in a variety of ways. The type of treatment you receive is determined by the severity of the problem:

 

Treatments with Fluoride 

A fluoride treatment might help the enamel heal itself if you have early tooth decay.

Fillings 

If you have a normal cavity, your dentist will remove the decayed tooth tissue and then fill it with a filling substance to restore the tooth.

Root Canal

A root canal is a procedure that removes the roots of the tooth. A root canal may be required if the tooth has been damaged and/or infection has progressed to the pulp (inside the tooth). 

Your dentist will clean the inside of the tooth and remove the decayed pulp. The next step is to place a temporary filling in the tooth.

Then you’ll have to return for a permanent filling or a crown (a cover on the tooth).

Tooth Extraction (Pulling Out the Tooth)

When the pulp damage is too severe to repair, your dentist may recommend pulling out the tooth.

To replace the missing tooth, your dentist will recommend a bridge or dental implant. Otherwise, the teeth on either side of the gap may shift and alter your bite.

Is It Possible to Avoid Tooth Decay?

There are things you may do to keep your teeth from decaying:

  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste to ensure you get adequate fluoride.
  • Consume fluoridated tap water. Fluoride is not present in most bottled water.
  • Also, use a fluoride-based mouthwash after every meal.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss your teeth on a regular basis to maintain good oral health.
  • Limit high-sugar and high-starch foods and beverages to make sensible food choices. Limit snacking and eat healthful, balanced meals.
  • Tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, should not be used. If you currently use cigarettes, you should think about quitting.
  • Regular dental checkups and cleanings are recommended.
  • Also, kids can use sealants on their teeth to prevent tooth decay. The chewing surfaces of the back teeth are protected by dental sealants, which are thin plastic coverings. Sealants should be applied to children’s back teeth so as to prevent further damage.

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