Tooth decay is damage to the surface of the tooth, or dentin. It occurs when oral bacteria inside the mouth create acids that damage the dentin. Tooth decay may lead to dental caries, which are large, tooth-like holes in the tooth. Tooth decay may also lead to tooth loss, which is tooth decay and other dental problems working together. Tooth decay may occur if not treated.
Dental cavities, also known as cavities, can develop for several reasons. One cause is insufficient saliva. Saliva is needed to brush the teeth and clean the saliva from the mouth before it can do any good. Foods and drinks with sugar can dry up saliva, leaving you without the important source of moisture. This can affect tooth decay, as well as other types of cavity treatments.
Bacteria can also get into your mouth by way of the food you eat. Some types of food are easier to break down. Such foods are more likely to produce dental caries, as well as other types of cavity problems, such as gingivitis. Gum disease can be passed on from parents to children. Teeth that are not properly brushed regularly can also harbor harmful bacteria. Smoking has been known to cause certain types of dental caries.
The dentist will remove any existing cavity or tooth decay, as well as give you advice on what to do in order to prevent them. Most people in their twenties and younger have between one and two cavities. At this point, you should start to see the dentist every six months for a cleaning, x-rays, an examination, and a treatment plan. If your condition is at the third stage, which is when tooth decay that has set in is more severe, then the dentist may recommend mouthwashes, toothpastes, fluoride treatments, or even a root canal.
Other risk factors for tooth decay include being overweight. Not enough saliva in the mouth can make it more likely for tooth decay to take hold. Foods like candied fruits, high-fiber diets, dairy products, sugary beverages, and meats, particularly red meat, can all help you put off a visit to your dentist. You should talk to your doctor about what kinds of foods you should avoid, especially if you have diabetes.
The tooth decay process usually begins with the building of oral bacteria on the surfaces of teeth, as well as tartar. As the bacteria begin to grow, they create acids that eat away at the surface of the teeth, until they eventually lead to holes. While there are several ways to stop tooth decay from progressing to this point, the primary way is through good dental hygiene practices, including regular cleanings and checkups.
After the bacteria have built up a sufficient amount of acid, a cavity can form in the center of the tooth, sometimes resulting in an abscess. An abscess is an infected root of a tooth, and while it may look healthy, it is filled with pus that contains both bacteria and the minerals that the abscess needs to heal. Left untreated, the abscess will fill with bacteria and fluids, eventually bursting through the gums and into the tissues of the jaw. This results in nerve damage that causes the affected person to experience severe pain, as well as speech and facial difficulties. Complete tooth decay also leaves telltale signs, such as nerve damage, nerve deterioration, and tooth sensitivity.
Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, as well as pain after chewing certain foods, may signal tooth decay. The presence of white spots may indicate that the patient has experienced significant mineral loss over a long period of time. Over time, teeth become porous and lose the ability to absorb minerals, leaving them more vulnerable to damage from plaque and acids. Tooth decay requires immediate attention, and early intervention is essential to prevent permanent damage. Consult a dentist to identify whether any of these symptoms apply to you.