Tooth decay

What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay is when the tooth starts to die do to exposure to bad bacteria over a prolonged period of time, this can start small and progress. This would affect the enamel first, causing small brown or black patches on the teeth to form, this isn’t painful but is the stage where you will need to go to the dentist before irreversible damage starts to happen.

The next stage would be the decay permeating through the first layer of the tooth, into the second which is known as the dentine. When the dentine starts to decay, this can cause discomfort to the patient. The last stage is when the pulp starts to decay also, this is extremely painful and often will need a more invasive treatment to combat the dying pulp and dentine.

What causes tooth decay?

Tooth decay can be the result of multiple causes, here are some of the most common:
  • Drug use
  • Sugary and acidic food and drinks.
  • Poor oral hygiene.
  • Dry mouth

How to prevent tooth decay?

Preventing your teeth from decaying Is not only ideal but it will instil habits that are far better for your long-term health:
  • Avoiding smoking and vaping.
  • Flossing before brushing teeth and after eating meals. Ensuring you brush twice a day for no less than two minutes, using a fluoride-containing toothpaste.
  • Reducing sugary and acidic food intake, keeping it to the recommended daily intake.
  • Visiting your dentist for regular appointments every 6-12 months.

How to treat tooth decay?

To treat tooth decay, you will need to visit your dentist, as decay can not be fixed at home. If the decay is caught in its earliest stages, your dentist may be able to clean the area and apply a coating to the surface of the lesion. If you improve your oral hygiene and diet, these early lesions can arrest themselves. If the decay has become a cavity permeating through the layers of the tooth, a filling will probably be the necessary treatment.

A root canal may be needed if the decay has spread through to the pulp, this will likely save what is left of the tooth so that the patient still has the function of the tooth there. A crown can be placed over the top but that is something that you can discuss with your dentist should you wish to. In the worst cases, it is common for the tooth to be removed.

How to spot tooth decay/symptoms?

The tooth will often indicate that there is decay through the following symptoms: sensitivity to hot and cold food, drinks, and air. With decay, toothache may occur, along with sharp pains or dull aches, bad tastes in the mouth and potentially bad breath. Visually the decay will look like a grey, black, and brown patch appearing on the tooth, and over time that will form a crater in the space where the healthy tooth once was.

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