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What’s The Deal With Tooth Decay?
May 19, 2021

girl covering mouth Dental Care Center

Tooth decay refers to the destruction of the hard, outer layer of your teeth known as enamel. It impacts adults, teenagers, and children all the same. In fact, studies have shown that 60% of adults do not clean their teeth properly. So it is not only children that need to (re)learn how to take care of their oral health. Do you fall into this majority?

Some may believe that you don’t have to take good care of your teeth at home because fluoride is added to drinking water and dentistry has made large advancements from technology. But, this is not true. Shockingly, 91% of adults aged between 20 and 64 have experienced some level of tooth decay and have needed a cavity filled. So do not take tooth decay lightly.

What are the symptoms?

You usually do not notice the symptoms of tooth decay until you have an infection or a cavity.

When this happens, you may experience:

  • A toothache.
  • Grey, brown, or black spots on your teeth.
  • Swelling of your gums, especially around a sore tooth.
  • Bad breath or a foul taste in your mouth.

Causes of Tooth Decay

Bacteria and certain foods cause tooth decay. Plaque is constantly forming in your mouth and contains bacteria, which eat at the sugars left from the foods you eat. This bacteria leaves behind acids that lead to the erosion of your teeth.

Things that make you more likely to experience tooth decay include:

  • Improper oral care. Proper oral care means brushing twice a day, flossing every day, and having regular dental check-ups.
  • Not getting enough fluoride. Fluoride is added to your public water supply but some may still not get the recommended amount. Adults should be consuming 1 liter of fluoridated water daily and using fluoridated toothpaste. It helps protect your teeth from the acids that eat away at your tooth enamel.
  • A diet high in sugar and carbohydrates. The bacteria in your mouth love feeding on these foods.
  • Having a dry mouth. The saliva in your mouth also helps protect your teeth and gums from plaque by washing away leftover sugars from the food you eat. You can help by drinking plenty of water, especially after eating.
  • Smoking and using chewing tobacco.
  • Diabetes also increases the risks of experiencing tooth decay.

How to Treat Tooth Decay

The treatment usually depends on the severity of the tooth decay. Early detection can sometimes result in fluoride treatments that will reverse the decay process. Your dentist may recommend a specific toothpaste high in fluoride.

If the tooth decay has already penetrated the enamel on your teeth, you may need one or more of the following procedures:

  • A filling to treat a cavity. After the decay is removed, we will fill your cavity and shape your tooth back to its original form.
  • A crown or a cap to replace part of your tooth. This is only done when your tooth is badly damaged and can’t be restored with a filling.
  • A root canal. During a root canal, the dentist removes damaged pulp from your tooth, which lies in the center of your teeth.
  • Tooth extraction. If your tooth is damaged enough and is unrepairable, we may have to remove the tooth. We can then replace the tooth with a bridge, implant, or dentures.

Tooth decay is preventable. See your dentist regularly, at least twice a year, and practice proper oral care at home. If you have questions or are concerned that you may need treatment for your tooth decay, schedule an appointment with us today.