Let’s talk about tooth decay: The causes, prevention, and treatment

We all understand the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene, but do you understand the science behind tooth decay? Your oral health is intricately linked to your overall well-being, making it paramount to living a healthy life. 

At The Practice, we’ve been looking after the oral health of our patients for many years, understanding tooth decay and its impact on health. Let’s shed some light on tooth decay, its cause, prevention and treatment options available here at our West End dental clinic. 

What causes tooth decay? 

Also known in the dental industry as ‘dental caries’, tooth decay can be influenced by a range of factors. All these factors result in gradual tooth enamel erosion, then ultimately the formation of cavities. 

When we talk about tooth decay, the term ‘plague’ is often used. Plaque is a sticky film that’s full of bacteria and it covers the tooth surfaces. If left unchecked, the bacteria in plaque can encourage the production of acids, gradually breaking down the protective layer of tooth enamel. 

Tooth decay can be exacerbated when you eat too many sugary and starchy foods. These foods fuel the bacteria in the plaque and can speed up the decay process. This, combined with poor oral hygiene, irregular dental check-ups and a range of medical conditions can make tooth decay worse.

How to prevent tooth decay

Preventing tooth decay

One of the best ways to prevent tooth decay is to properly care for your teeth and adopt a strong dental hygiene routine. Regular brushing, flossing and the use of fluoride toothpaste are essential for good oral health. 

In addition to this, limiting the amount of sugary foods and beverages and attending 6-monthly dental check-ups also play an important role in preventing tooth decay. 

At The Practice, we love to empower our patients to embrace a robust dental hygiene routine. We can help you schedule regular check-ups and cleans, and give you the knowledge to take care of your teeth and gums at home to prevent tooth decay. 

How do you know if you have tooth decay? 

Some common signs of tooth decay include: 

  • Toothache: If you have pain or discomfort in a tooth you may have tooth decay. 
  • Tooth sensitivity: Tooth sensitivity is another sign of tooth decay. You may experience pain or discomfort when eating or drinking hot, cold or sweet food or beverages. 
  • Discolouration: A change in the colour of your tooth may indicate tooth decay.
  • Visible holes: When checking your teeth, look for holes or dark spots on the chewing surface of your teeth – this may be tooth decay. 
  • Bad breath: Bad breath is another sign of tooth decay.
  • Pain while chewing: Pain or discomfort in a tooth when chewing may suggest tooth decay.
  • Swelling/pimples on your gums: Swelling and little pimple-like bumps on your gums can be related to tooth decay. 

You have tooth decay – now what? 

If you already have tooth decay it’s time to consult your dentist. The Practice dentists will act fast to preserve your dental health and relieve any pain or discomfort you may be experiencing. 

If our dentists see you in the early stages of tooth decay, a dental filling is generally the best solution. If there is more advanced tooth decay, you may need a dental crown, which will strengthen the tooth’s structure and increase its strength. In cases of very severe tooth decay, a root canal is the best option to save the tooth and relieve your pain. 

Think you might have tooth decay? We’d love to help, book an appointment online at our dental clinic in West End today, or call 07 3733 3223. 

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