All You Need to Know About Tooth Decay

Tooth or dental decay is the softening and destruction of the enamel, which is the tooth’s hard outer layer. Cavities, or holes in the tooth, develop as a result. Almost everyone suffers from tooth decay or a cavity at some point in their lives.

What Does Tooth Decay Look Like?

Although it is often challenging to spot a cavity during its early development, one can detect some tooth cavities by a yellowish or chalky texture on the tooth’s enamel. A stained brown or black tint may be present in more severe conditions. Yet, red flags are typically harder to distinguish. Given that there aren’t many early cavity symptoms, how can you tell if you have a cavity? A routine X-ray taken at the dentist’s office can help to detect tooth decay at gum line that could lead to a tooth cavity. It’s also another excellent reason to maintain your routine dental exams.

The Causes

Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the teeth and gums constantly and is a significant cause of tooth decay. Bacteria that feed on the sugars, starches, and carbohydrates that remain on your teeth after you eat make this plaque and produce acids that corrode the enamel. There are several reasons why people become vulnerable to dental decay. These include:

  • Lack of a proper brushing and flossing routine leads to plaque and tartar build-up.
  • A dry mouth or absence of sufficient saliva. The saliva in our mouth aids in washing away the plaque on the teeth. Its absence creates an ideal environment for the bacteria to build-up.
  • Acid reflux causes the stomach acid to rise and then come into contact with teeth. This causes erosion of the enamel if the problem is frequent. Similarly, frequent vomiting, for example in bulimia, can also cause decay.

Signs of Tooth Decay

You may have dental decay if you are experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Toothache: The pain may be continuous and keep you awake. However, it can also manifest as an occasional sharp pain without an obvious cause. On the other hand, some people do not experience pain at all.
  • Spots: You may notice grey, brown, or black spots on your teeth.
  • Bad Breath: You may have consistent bad breath as well as an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
  • Sensitivity: You may feel pain or tenderness while eating or drinking edibles of extreme temperatures or those that are sweet.
  • Teeth with Pits or Holes: You might see a tiny hole in the tooth where the decay is happening if you have a cavity or mild tooth decay. A tooth cavity may be present if you see a small hole, dent, or pit in your tooth.

The Stages

There are five stages  — worsening gradually and leading to tooth infection. The tooth decay stages are classified as

  • Initial demineralisation
    Enamel decay
  • Dentin decay
  • Pulp damage
  • Abscess

The Treatment

You may be wondering how to stop tooth decay or how to heal cavities. Treatment for tooth decay depends on the extent of damage present. A simple fluoride treatment, for example, can sometimes reverse a cavity in its early stages. Other treatments include fillings, dental crowns, root canal therapy, and tooth extractions.

How Does Fluoride Help Teeth?

Acids are generated when sugar and carbohydrates are broken down by oral bacteria. These acids erode the minerals in your tooth enamel. Demineralization is the term for this mineral loss. Your teeth are more susceptible to the germs that trigger cavities if your tooth enamel is weak.

To avoid cavities and treat the early stages of dental decay, fluoride assists in remineralizing your tooth enamel. Fluoride joins with calcium and phosphate once it enters your enamel to build a strong cavity-prevention mechanism for your teeth.

Prevention Methods

Preventative measures can help you avoid cavities as well as act against the progression of dental decay. Generally, you need to clean your teeth right after each meal and, if possible, at least twice daily to maintain dental health. To clean in between your teeth, use floss or an interdental cleaner. Apply dental sealants to fill the small spaces where food collects, protecting tooth enamel from acid and plaque.

Eat foods that don’t stick around for a long period in the ridges and crevices of your teeth, or brush right away. Foods including fruits and vegetables, unsweetened coffee, tea, and sugar-free gum, however, encourage greater salivation and help in the elimination of food scraps. If you are highly susceptible to tooth decay, your dentist may advise certain antibacterial mouthwashes or other procedures to help lessen the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth.

Regular dental check-ups allow your dentist to identify dental decay and cavities in earlier stages and provide timely treatment. The earlier you get Dental decay treatment, the more you can save time and money. Delaying treatment or not receiving a diagnosis can cause the problem to worsen — requiring more complicated and expensive treatments.

Tooth Decay Removal Services in Seattle

At Sue Vetter, with regular dental check-ups, we can timely diagnose dental decay and provide quality treatments. We also offer treatments for different levels of damage caused by decay.

To learn more about our tooth decay removal services or book your appointment, please call or visit us.










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(206) 547 4131


2101 North 34th Street Suite 170

Seattle, Washington 98103



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