Tooth decay, which creates cavities, is a common dental problem. It’s not life threatening, but can be painful and cause infection. Tooth decay directly impacts your oral health. It’s also highly preventable.
Your mouth is full of natural bacteria. These form plaque, which feed on sugars left on your teeth by food. When that happens, acids are created that slowly dissolve and demineralize the enamel on the surface of your teeth. Your teeth become weaker, and holes may result.
Eventually, other layers of the teeth can be affected, creating worse damage that may result in tooth loss. Infection develops when decay reaches the pulp, because the pulp houses the nerves and blood vessels.
Do I show signs of tooth decay?
The most common symptom of tooth decay is a toothache. You may also see swelling in your gums near a sore tooth. Bad breath and dark spots on your teeth may also indicate decay. If you notice these symptoms, see your dentist. The decay will keep growing unless it’s treated.
How is tooth decay treated?
If it’s caught early enough, tooth decay can be halted with fluoride treatments. If the decay has gotten through the enamel, you may need a filling to plug the hole after decay is removed. If the tooth is badly damaged, you may need a crown or cap to replace part of the tooth. If the inner pulp of your tooth has gotten infected, resulting in an abscessed tooth, you could need a root canal to remove it. And if the damage is severe, you may need the tooth extracted.
Can I ease my discomfort at home?
If you are experiencing toothache and swelling, use ice packs on your cheek for no more than 15 minutes at a time, several times a day. Make sure to create a thin barrier between ice and skin, using cloth or something similar. Take ibuprofin or acetominophen to manage the pain. Eat soft foods at a lukewarm temperature if you’re feeling tooth sensitivity.
How can I prevent tooth decay?
You can lower your chances of getting tooth decay by brushing and flossing regularly with fluoride toothpaste. Make sure to see your dentist regularly for cleanings and x-rays, which can catch decay before it’s visible to the naked eye. Also, avoid eating foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates, especially before bed. Additionally, you can supplement your oral routine with fluoride, through fortified tap water, mouthwash or toothpaste.
If you think you have symptoms of tooth decay, get to a local dentist immediately! The longer you wait, the worse it’ll get – and once the decay gets past the protective enamel, it moves more quickly through the lower layers. In general, however, you can prevent this condition with a regular, consistent oral routine that includes fluoride.Leave a reply →