This is a common oral health problem. In some cases, it can be reversed, while in others, it can be controlled for preventing further damage. Here are a few frequently asked questions about dental decay:

What causes dental decay?

The major cause of dental decay is bacteria. These bacteria are responsible for creating plaque on teeth. It happens to everyone.

However, when we do not have a healthy dental hygiene routine and the plaque starts to build upon our teeth, it can become a problem. The plaque and tartar build-up start to erode tooth enamel, which is dental decay. Ultimately, this leads to the formation of tooth cavities.

What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky, transparent film that coats your teeth. It is caused by a diet high in sugars and starches, as well as a lack of dental hygiene. When sugars and starches are not removed from your teeth, bacteria feast on them, and plaque forms. Tartar can form when plaque remains on your teeth, either below or above the gum line. Tartar makes plaque removal more difficult and acts as a barrier for bacteria.

What is a cavity?

A cavity is a hole that develops in a tooth as a result of dental decay. Cavities arise when the hard, outer coating (enamel) of a tooth is worn down or eroded by acids in the mouth. Almost everyone develops cavities, also called dental caries. They can be avoided with proper brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings.

What are tooth decay symptoms?

There are several signs such as:

  • Tooth sensitivity to extreme temperatures or sugary food
  • White or dark spots on teeth
  • Cavities
  • Tooth pain that does not go away
  • Bad breath
  • Tooth abscesses that cause pain, fever, or facial swelling
  • Frequently trapped food in teeth

What are tooth decay stages?

It occurs and worsens over time. There are five stages of dental decay. These include initial demineralization, enamel decay, dentin decay, pulp damage, and finally tooth abscess.

When the tooth is constantly exposed to acids produced by plaque, it starts to lose minerals, which are essential for the enamel. Next, the enamel begins to erode. Afterward, the decay reaches the dentin, which is the soft tissue under the enamel.

The next stage is when the decay reaches the innermost tooth layer called the pulp.

The last stage is a tooth abscess, which is the formation of a pus pocket at the bottom of the tooth.

What is tooth decay treatment?

Tooth decay treatment depends on what stage it has been detected. For example, if the tooth decay is at its earliest stage, then a fluoride treatment can work well but if you have developed a cavity, your dentist will treat it with a dental filling.

Similarly, if the abscess has formed, then either you will get a root canal treatment to remove the infection or in severe cases, the dentist removes the affected tooth.

Sue Vetter’s dental clinic offers quality dental care in Seattle, including tooth decay treatment. To learn more or book an appointment, please call or visit us.










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