Tooth decay can happen to anyone. Left untreated, cavities can become infected and eventually, result in tooth loss. Don’t wait for a toothache to start taking care of your teeth. By practicing good oral hygiene and getting regular dental checkups, you can protect yourself from tooth decay.
Perhaps there’s a need to have a better understanding of tooth decay. It begins with the normal bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria feed on food particles in your mouth and produce acid as a byproduct. The combination of bacteria, food debris, acid, and saliva in your mouth forms a filmy substance on your teeth called plaque. If the plaque isn’t removed promptly, tooth decay will begin. Eventually, the plaque hardens into a mineral-like substance known as tartar, which without professional care is much harder to remove. Both tartar and plaque can eventually lead to the gum diseases known as gingivitis and periodontitis.
In addition to gum disease, plaque build-up also affects the protective enamel surface on your teeth, leading to cavities. Without treatment, cavities grow larger and eventually compromise the nerves and blood vessels within the tooth. If an abscess or other infection develops in the tooth it more than likely will result in the destruction, and probably the loss of your tooth.
The culprits in this scenario are starches and sugars we eat. In addition, sticky foods also promote cavities as they adhere to the surface of the teeth and facilitate bacterial activity. Generally, if you snack a lot, you’re at higher risk of developing cavities from the plaque formed from poor eating and oral habits.
Although cavities are more common in younger people, adults aren’t immune. Older fillings often deteriorate and allow bacteria to accumulate, resulting in additional tooth decay.
Most cavities are found early during regular dental checkups, but you have to show up for those checkups. Sensitivity when eating hot or cold foods and drinks may also alert you to a possible cavity. If you notice tooth sensitivity or pain, it’s morel than likely time to visit your dentist for an oral exam.
Once a cavity is found, treatment options include either a filling, crown or root canal therapy, depending on the degree of decay. If caught early enough the most common cavity treatment is a filling. If you waited until you had pain, and your cavity is severe, a crown may be necessary to restore the tooth. If decay has spread to the tooth’s root, a root canal may be required. In this procedure, the nerve tissue is removed and sealed. Then either a permanent filling is placed or a crown may be necessary as well.
So what should you do? The best way to prevent decay and other dental issues associated with tooth decay is to practice good oral hygiene and see your dentist regularly. If you experience tooth sensitivity, make an appointment to see your dentist sooner than later. With proper dental examinations we can eliminate problems before they start. Don’t let your dental hygiene disrupt your lifestyle, contact us now.
ZoAnna Scheinfeld, MS, DMD
Hanna Orland, DMD
290 Carpenter Drive, 200B
Atlanta, GA 30328