Oral hygiene is the key to a winning smile, but did you know it can also prevent tooth decay?
A decayed tooth can have mild to severe damage that leads to discomfort, lack of confidence, or pain. Continue reading to find more about the different stages of tooth decay and how you can treat it.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay occurs when bacteria weakens or destroys enamel. These bacteria convert sugar and starches from your foods into an acid that eats away at the enamel.
Decayed Tooth: What Should I Do?
If you notice tooth decay, it’s time to schedule a visit with your dentist. Your dentist will identify tooth decay by examining your teeth, probing, or performing x-rays.
Once your dentist examines your teeth, they’ll be able to identify what level of decay you are experiencing. Decay occurs at several stages, and the current level will determine which treatment option is best for you.
When caught early on, a cavity developing from tooth decay might be reversible. A sign that it’s the early stages of decay is white spots on the tooth. These appear when minerals in the enamel are lost.
Fluoride treatment is recommended at this level to restore the enamel and may prevent the cavities from forming. Fluoride treatment is most effective when done by a dentist.
Cavities that aren’t caught in the early stages aren’t reversible. The most common treatment for cavities is fillings, which act as a restoration for your teeth.
Fillings remove the decayed section and replace it with another material. Materials used to replace former decay are resin, gold, tooth-colored plastic, silver, porcelain, or amalgam.
Tooth decay weakens your teeth and causes sensitivity if not treated early. If you’re experiencing weakened teeth due to damage from a higher level of decay, crowns are the recommended treatment.
Crowns are a custom covering that replaces your tooth’s natural crown. These coverings are applied to your teeth by drilling away the decayed portion and part of your tooth.
If decay reached the inner materials of your tooth, also known as the pulp, your dentist would request a root canal procedure to repair it. Root canals remove the diseased pulp from your tooth and replace it with a filling.
Decay at its worst level cannot be restored or removed. When this occurs, a rotten tooth is removed with a tooth extraction.
A tooth removal leaves a gap in your mouth that shifts your other teeth so that you might consider further dental care. Bridges or tooth implants can prevent this shift.
Tooth decay occurs in varying levels, but prevention is vital to keep your teeth healthy. Brush your teeth often, use fluoride toothpaste, and keep snacks and sugary drinks at a minimum to prevent mineral loss in your teeth.
If you notice a decayed tooth, see a dentist right away. For more health information, check out the rest of our health content.