What to Know About Dental Decay
From an early age, we’ve heard about cavities and how they affect our teeth. But, despite the information, a majority of the adults still develop decay at some point. Well, the reason partly is because of the misconception that decay attacks only children and people with bad dental hygiene. Yes, children are at a higher risk of cavities, but adults can get affected too especially if they don’t pay attention to their oral health. Keep reading to learn more about cavities and how to prevent them.
1. Cavities Don’t Just Appear
Dental cavities take time to develop and rarely do they cause any pain or symptoms in the initial stages. The enamel is the strongest part of the tooth and doesn’t wear out easily. However, with the overexposure to bacteria and sugar, the enamel can soften causing it to crack and form cavities.
Cavities or decay, therefore, are the tiny holes in the teeth. If left untreated the holes can widen and eventually cause tooth loss. It takes months for the cavity to form and affect your teeth to the extent you need treatment.
2. Hygiene is to Blame, But There Are Other Causes
Poor hygiene is the primary cause of dental decay. When plaque accumulates, bacteria grow and attacks the teeth enamel and eventually cause decay. Other causes include:
- Overconsumption of sugar
Bacteria feed on sugar and also break down carbohydrates producing acid which attacks the enamel. Continual consumption of sugary foods will eventually wear down the enamel making it tender and prone to cavities.
- Dry mouth
Saliva not only moistens the mouth but also helps to remove food particles in the mouth. Furthermore, saliva contains calcium and phosphate that strengthen the teeth and help to prevent decay. Dry mouth also increases the risk of fungal infection.
- Medical problems
Certain medical conditions such as bulimia cause stomach acid to flow back to the mouth thereby attacking the teeth.
3. Cavities Don’t Cause Symptoms in The Early Stages
It is easy to ignore coming to dental treatment as you will not have symptoms of tooth decay in the initial stages. However, as the decay advances, you may experience:
- Spontaneous toothache that develops with no cause
- Visible holes
- Tooth sensitivity
- Pain when eating or biting
Several factors can increase your risk of developing cavities such as tooth location (decay is common in back teeth), inadequate brushing, not getting fluoride treatment, and worn our dental devices or fillings.
4. Extraction is Done as The Last Resort
Contrary to popular opinion, tooth extraction is not done in every case of dental decay. We offer different treatments to address decay such as:
- Fluoride treatments are given in the initial stages of the cavity. The fluoride treatment can reverse minor dental cavities.
- Root canal therapy is ideal when the decay advances to the pulp cavity. Dr. Judd Shenk will perform root canal treatment to save your tooth and prevent the spread of decay. During the procedure, the dentist will remove the pulp and replace it with a filling.
- Dental fillings are used when you have moderate decay.
- Crowns can also be used for extensive decay. The dentist will drill out the decay and cover the teeth with the dental crown.
In advanced stages, tooth extraction will be done. Remember, after the teeth are extracted, you will be left with spaces in between. If left unfilled the spaces can damage your appearance and weaken your dental structure as well as cause bone loss. To rectify the solution, you will need cosmetic dentistry to replace the missing teeth.
Dental decay can be avoided and here are a few tips to prevent it and stay on guard:
- Get regular fluoride treatment
- Consider the sealants if you have children
- Avoid frequent snacking and eat healthy food
Finally, come to Shenk Dental Care for regular dental checkups. The dentist will be able to detect any cavities in the early stages and reverse them. Furthermore, we will do professional cleaning to get rid of plaque buildup.