Tooth decay is the process that will eventually lead to cavities inside the tooth structure. The level of tooth decay we experience is directly related to our oral care habits and the types of foods we eat and beverage we drink.
Tooth decay begins slowly the moment plaque starts to form on the teeth. Plaque is a clear sticky substance. If plaque is left on the teeth, it starts to harden and turn into tartar. Both plaque and tartar contain bacteria that can lead to cavities.
Regular brushing twice a day helps remove plaque and prevents tartar. Flossing once a day is equally important because it removes plaque from in between the teeth where brushing does not remove it. Should plaque harden and turn into tartar, the only way to remove this is with a professional cleaning at our dental clinic.
If you do not brush twice a day or skip flossing, the bacteria slowly dissolves the enamel layer and eats through it exposing the dentin layer. The decay will continue, until the bacteria has spread into the inner pulp layer of the tooth.
Once the bacteria reach the pulp, you may notice a toothache. This is because there is an infection inside the pulp layer that has to be removed. The only way to fully remove the infection or cavity is by having the tooth drilled and filled.
It is worth mentioning not all people experience a toothache when they have cavities. The only way to know whether you have a cavity is with an x-ray taken by your dentist. This is why bi-annual visits to a dentist are an important part of proper oral care and health.
If cavities are not treated in a timely manner, the infection can spread into the tooth root. This can cause an abscess. To treat an abscess requires a root canal. If the infection continues to spread, it can completely destroy the tooth root and affect the health of gum tissue and the jaw bone.
Tooth decay is normally more of an issue in children, tweens, and teens. Parents should assist children with brushing and flossing until they are old enough to properly brush their teeth.
As we get older and become adults, we have learned and developed much better oral care habits, so cavities are not always as problematic. Although, cavities can still occur in adults if they do not maintain proper oral care routines, which should include:
To schedule an appointment to have your teeth cleaned and checked for cavities, please feel free to contact Kennedy Square Dental at (905) 789-7339 today!