What Is Tooth Decay?

Your durable teeth resist wear and tear from chewing and biting. But natural oral bacteria in your mouth could lead to dental damage known as tooth decay. When bacteria erode enamel, the outermost layer of your tooth, the tooth cannot heal itself. You will need treatment from your dentist to get rid of decay and restore your tooth’s health before it suffers further harm.

When you know more about this oral health concern, you can understand the importance of prompt treatment from your dentist. Read on to learn details about the causes, treatments, and prevention tips regarding tooth decay.

What Is Tooth Decay

How Does Tooth Decay Form?

Your mouth contains oral bacteria that develops a film over your teeth throughout the day called plaque. Plaque will eat away at your dental structure, weakening the enamel. Then bacteria can penetrate these weak spots and begin to deteriorate the tooth’s structure further.

If decay creates a hole in the enamel, then dentists refer to the damage as a cavity. Decay will continue to spread deeper into the tooth without intervention from a dentist. If it reaches the interior of your tooth, you could face a high risk of infection and other dental problems.

How Will My Dentist Treat Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay will not go away without help from your dentist. In the event of a cavity, an early form of decay, the dentist will drill away the damaged part of the tooth. Then they fill the resulting hole with composite resin in a treatment known as a dental filling.

The resin molds to fill the hole and then hardens when cured to create a seal over the vulnerable area of your tooth. This prevents further harm while also restoring the tooth’s shape and function.

If you develop more advanced tooth decay that affects a larger area of your tooth, then a filling will not be enough to restore your dental health. The dentist will still drill away the decay, but they may need to use a dental crown to cover the entire surface of the tooth. It seals into place with dental cement to provide reliable, long-lasting protection for the tooth.

How Do I Prevent Tooth Decay?

You can fight tooth decay by ensuring your enamel remains strong enough to resist bacterial penetration. This means removing plaque and other harmful residues from your teeth in a timely fashion through consistent oral hygiene practices. You should brush your teeth at least twice each day, morning and night, floss every day, and attend routine teeth cleanings at your dentist’s office.

You can also keep your teeth strong by avoiding foods and beverages that contribute to enamel erosion. Acidic substances, like citrus fruits and sugary treats, will weaken your teeth and make you susceptible to tooth decay.

The dentist may also recommend fluoride treatment. This in-office procedure involves a dentist applying a fluoride paste or gel to the teeth which will absorb into the enamel and fortify it against threats like decay. Learn more about preventative dental care by giving your dentist a call today.