The best form of treatment is prevention. However, when dental treatment is necessary, you can depend on Sterling Heights dentist, the well-trained staff to make dental care more comfortable for you in a state of the art environment. Tooth decay is one of the most common dental problems in the world and often becomes the catalyst for other forms of dental problems. In this article, Dr. Fardi Farhat explores the top causes for tooth decay
What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay, also known as a cavity, occurs when the acid made by bacteria present in your mouth starts eating away at your teeth. Initially, the decay is unnoticeable on the enamel (the outer layer of the teeth) and then slowly moves to the Dentin (middle layer), and finally to the pulp, where the highly sensitive blood vessels and nerves are located. In order to understand how to prevent it, we must first understand what causes tooth decay.
What causes tooth decay?
Tooth decay is a gradual process which starts with demineralization (loss of tooth minerals) and goes on all the way to form a cavity. It occurs when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) are stuck in the teeth in places from where they are not completely removed through brushing and flossing. Some of the major causes of tooth decay are:
Poor oral hygiene: Lack of brushing allows the buildup of plaque, which then attacks the tooth enamel. Oral hygiene is not limited to just brushing, though. You should make flossing, mouth wash, and brushing your tongue a part of your oral hygiene routine too.
Sweet/sugary foods: Bacteria feeds and thrives on sugar, enabling it to make the harmful acid that starts the process of tooth decay.
Tooth grinding: Excessive tooth grinding, mostly done unknowingly during sleep, damages the enamel, thus opening the way for tooth decay.
Acidic foods: Drinks like soda and fruit juice are also known culprits behind the breaking down of enamel and thus tooth decay.
Dry mouth: Saliva in your mouth helps wash away the food residues and thus preventing the food particles from being trapped in the teeth. Therefore, a dry mouth becomes more vulnerable to tooth decay.
Early signs and symptoms of tooth decay
As mentioned earlier, tooth decay has several steps involved in the process, and if the treatment begins in the earlier stages, it will be easier and quicker to get rid of the problem. Contact your Sterling Heights dentist as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Stains/spots on your teeth
- Noticeable hole/pits in the affected tooth
- Tooth sensitivity
However, often, these symptoms can go unnoticed and are only identifiable through X-rays. Therefore it is crucial to visit your Sterling Heights dentist for regular checkups in order to avoid unnecessary pain and trouble.
Prevention of tooth decay
Tooth decay can be prevented by enacting a proper and effective oral hygiene routine. Follow the steps below for optimal oral health:
- Brushing your teeth: You should brush your teeth at least twice a day, preferably with a fluoride toothpaste. Ideally, you should be brushing your teeth after every meal.
- Dental floss: It is recommended to floss your teeth at least once a day, in addition to brushing.
- Limit sugary foods and drinks: It has already been established that bacteria and sugary foods are the best of friends. Thus a decrease in their intake amounts to a decrease in chances of tooth decay.
- Regular dentist visits: Following the steps above does not guarantee prevention of tooth decay, as sometimes the plaque cannot be cleaned with brushing and floss, and requires removal by your Sterling Heights dentist.
Treatment of Tooth Decay
Treatment of tooth decay depends upon the severity of the decay:
- Fluoride treatment: This is an early-stage treatment where fluoride restores enamel, preventing further decay.
- Tooth Fillings: The decay is removed by a drill, and then filled with a substance like silver, composite resin, or gold.
- Crowns: For a severe cavity, a custom fit cap replaces the natural crown of the tooth after removing the decay.
- Root canal: When the decay has reached the pulp of the tooth and affected the nerves, a root canal is performed to save the tooth.