Tooth Decay explained

What causes tooth decay?

Tooth decay (also known as dental caries) is very common, and it can affect all ages.  Although anyone can have a problem with tooth decay, children and elderly people are the two groups at the highest risk.

Other high risk groups include people who eat a high content of sugary foods and people with numerous restorations (fillings and crowns).

A combination of the bacteria and food in your mouth causes tooth decay. A clear sticky substance mostly made of germs called plaque is always forming on your teeth and gums. The plaque bacteria sticking to the tooth enamel uses the sugar and starch from food in the mouth to produce acid that can eat away at tooth.

What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay is the destruction of the outer surface (enamel) of the tooth. You may call it a cavity or a hole in your tooth but your dentist calls it tooth decay or dental caries. It occurs when the bacteria in your mouth produces acids that can eat away at a tooth.

Without a filling, the decay can get deep into the tooth and its nerves and can lead to toothache or even an abscess.

How do I know I have it and what can I do?

What are the symptoms?

Tooth decay may be indicated if any of the following occur:

  • Toothache, which is the most common symptom coming from an infection of the tooth or irritation of the pulp can cause pain.
  • Bad breath or not a nice taste left in your mouth.
  • Sometimes white or black spots can appear on the teeth
  • A loose filling, food getting trapped underneath it can cause tooth decay.
  • A broken filling
  • You may notice that the pain will worsen when you drink hot or cold drinks, breath in cold air, or if you’re brushing near the decayed tooth.

How is it treated?

Treatment can involve any or a combination of fluoride, diet control, fillings and/or tooth-removal depending on the severity of the decay. We have a range of treatment videos available here should you wish to learn more.

One this is for sure though, the earlier it is detected the easier the treatment.  Another reason for you to be attending the dentist regularly.  So give get in touch today and book your appointment!

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