When plaque builds up on your teeth, it produces acid, which can cause tooth decay.
If plaque is allowed to build up, it can lead to more serious issues like dental caries (holes in the teeth), gum disease, and tooth abscesses (pus collections at the end of the teeth or in the gums). Visit Dentist Yokine for more information.
Tooth decay symptoms
Tooth decay may not be painful. If you have dental caries, however, you may have:
- toothache – either a constant throbbing pain that keeps you awake at night or an acute pain that has no clear explanation
- When you eat or drink something hot, cold, or sweet, you may experience discomfort or pain in your teeth.
- Spots on your teeth that are grey, brown, or black
- stale breath
- a disagreeable taste in your tongue
Visiting the dentist
Visit your dentist on a regular basis so that early tooth decay can be treated and decay prevention can begin. Early tooth decay is much easier and less expensive to treat. With a simple examination or X-ray, dentists can typically detect tooth decay and other issues.
Regular dental examinations are also essential. Adults should have a check-up every two years, while children under the age of 18 should have a check-up once a year.
Tooth decay treatment options
Tooth decay is treated differently depending on how far it has progressed.
- Your dentist will discuss the amount of sugar in your diet and the times you eat with you if you have early stage tooth decay. A fluoride gel, varnish, or paste may be applied to the affected area. Fluoride strengthens the enamel of teeth, making them more resistant to the acids found in plaque, which can cause tooth decay.
- Your dentist may recommend a filling or crown, which entails removing the decay, administering a local anaesthetic to numb the tooth, and repairing the hole.
- If tooth decay has advanced to the pulp (the soft tissue in the centre of the tooth that contains blood and nerves), root canal therapy may be required.
- If the tooth is too seriously injured to be healed, it may have to be extracted. A partial denture, bridge, or implant may be used to replace the missing tooth.
Tooth decay prevention
Despite the fact that tooth decay is a widespread concern, it is often completely avoidable. Keeping your teeth and gums as healthy as possible is the greatest method to avoid dental decay. You should, for example:
- Visit your dentist on a regular basis — based on the state of your mouth, teeth, and gums, your dentist will determine how often you need to see them.
- Reduce your intake of sugary and starchy foods and beverages, especially between meals and within an hour of bedtime – Because some drugs contain sugar, it’s best to look for sugar-free options wherever possible.
- Take care of your teeth and gums by brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing and using an interdental brush at least once a day, and not smoking or drinking alcohol.
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol use – tobacco can impair saliva production, which helps to keep your teeth clean, and alcohol can contribute to tooth enamel degradation.
- If you have a consistently dry mouth, consult your dentist or doctor; it could be caused by certain medications, treatments, or medical issues.
Plaque’s role in tooth decay
Bacteria in your mouth develop a film over your teeth called dental plaque.
When you ingest high-carbohydrate foods and beverages, especially sugary foods and beverages, the bacteria in plaque convert the carbohydrates into energy while also making acid.
If plaque is allowed to build up, the acid will begin to dissolve (break down) the surface of your tooth, creating cavities.
Plaque and bacteria can penetrate the dentine once cavities have formed in the enamel (the softer, bone-like material underneath the enamel). Because the dentine is weaker than the enamel, tooth decay progresses more quickly.
Bacteria will infiltrate the pulp if it is not treated (the soft center of the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels). Your nerves will be exposed to bacteria at this point, causing pain in your tooth.
The bacteria can produce a dental abscess in the pulp, and the infection may extend to the bone, resulting in a different sort of abscess.