Tooth Decay

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Tooth decay is a dental problem in which the tissues on the outside of your teeth, which are usually hard, break down forming a hole or a cavity. Depending on the severity of the condition, this hole can be relatively shallow or very deep. Deeper holes can cause a range of problems as they can often interfere with blood vessels and the nerve of a tooth located inside the pulp.

For most patients, tooth decay won't display any symptoms in its early stages. But as time goes by, symptoms will begin to manifest. The most common symptom associated with tooth decay is toothache but some patients can also develop sensitivity in their teeth to hot or cold and certain types of foods and drinks. If left unchecked, tooth decay can often lead to an infection in the nerve and even the formation of dental abscesses. These can cause extensive pain and may cause the jaw area to swell and in the most severe cases may cause fevers and general illness.

Causes of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is caused by a number of bacteria which live in your mouth. The process of tooth decay is often sped up by ingesting lots of sugary foods and drinks which leave debris in your mouth. Over time, bacteria forms a sticky film on the surfaces of your teeth called dental plaque. As the bacteria feeds on the sugars, acid is created as a by-product and attacks your tooth enamel.

You are at an increased risk of tooth decay if you have a lot of sugary foods in your diet and don't maintain good oral hygiene. Tooth decay is a fairly common dental issue so it is usually suggested that you visit your dentist at least twice a year so that any decay is spotted and treated before it becomes a serious problem. Your dentist should easily be able to spot the signs of tooth decay through an oral examination but an X-ray photograph may also be required so that the extent of the damage can be assessed.

Treatment for Tooth Decay

In less severe cases of tooth decay, the tooth will often repair itself if a good level of oral hygiene is maintained. Unfortunately, in many cases you will need to have the tooth filled. In more severe cases, where the nerve of the tooth is affected, you may require more invasive treatments such as a RCT, and in the most serious cases, tooth extraction may be needed.

You can help to prevent tooth decay by brushing and flossing your teeth regularly. If you have a lot of sugary snacks or drinks in your diet, then it is strongly advised that you cut down on them. Try to visit your dentist at least twice a year and maintain a healthy and balanced diet.

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