Tooth Decay Causes and Symptoms

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is caused when bacteria, acid, food particles, and saliva blend together and form plaque that sticks to the teeth.  If this plaque isn’t removed, it may result in the complicating factors such as a cavity, tooth abscess, tartar, gingivitis, and possibly periodontitis.  This guide will provide a look at the causes of tooth decay, the symptoms and also how you and your dentist may work to treat or prevent this illness.

Tooth Decay Causes And Symptoms

Tooth decay is an extremely common condition and can occur at any age but is more common in children and young adults.  It comes about when normal bacteria of the mouth combines with antioxidants, food particles and saliva leading to plaque, a sticky substance that sticks to the teeth.

The acids in the plaque cause continual destruction of the enamel (outer layer of tooth) and dentin (layers under the enamel) with the formation of a cavity being seen.  The tooth may continue to decay until it includes the pulp (layer beneath the dentin which comprises the blood vessels and nerves), which may lead to pain and cause the tooth to be ruined and lost.

If the plaque isn’t removed it can generalize into tartar and result in irritation and inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and potentially periodontitis, that’s the inflammation and infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth.

Foods that contain carbohydrates such as sugar and starch put a person at higher risk for tooth decay.

Symptoms may include a dark spot or visible hole on the tooth surface, and the tooth may be sensitive or painful to heat or cold.

Tooth Decay Diagnosis And Treatment

Tracking of the aforementioned symptoms may be noted and must be assessed by a dentist.  However, most cavities are discovered during a routine dental examination.  The examination may include x-rays, which can detect cavities before they are visible on the surface of the tooth.

Treatment begins with preventative measures, including great dental hygiene such as regular brushing, flossing, and regular check-ups by a dentist.  A dentist or doctor may prescribe fluoride tablets to be taken while the teeth are developing in a young child.  Daily intake of processed sugars or carbohydrates should be minimized since they encourage tooth decay.

If a cavity is found, the decayed tissue is removed from the tooth and replaced with a filling which is typically a substance such as silver alloy, gold, porcelain or composite resin.

A crown or “cap” may be used by a dentist to treat tooth decay if the damage to the tooth is extensive or there’s only a small amount of the standard tooth structure present.

A root canal is used when the nerve of the tooth dies.  In this case, the pulp and the decayed section of the tooth are removed and filled with a sealing material.


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