What is Tooth Decay?


Your teeth are the strongest substance in your body. They are exposed to a significant amount of different substances as well as a significant amount of use. While they are strong, they are still susceptible to tooth decay. Decay is the softening of your tooth enamel or the outermost layer of your teeth. It occurs when the acids produced by plaque and bacteria erode your tooth enamel, causing mineral loss.

If you do not address tooth decay right away, it can lead to the formation of a cavity or a small pit in your tooth. Without treatment, a cavity only grows larger, compromising the strength of the affected tooth and your oral health. If you have developed tooth decay, Myers Dental can help.

What Causes Tooth Decay?

There are some different issues that can lead to the formation of tooth decay. Some common causes include:

• Ignoring your oral hygiene routine. Even occasionally skipping out on brushing or flossing, or putting off dental cleanings and exams can lead to an accumulation of plaque and bacteria, which can then lead to decay.

• Using tobacco products. Tobacco products make plaque stickier, which helps it to collect more bacteria.

• What you eat and drink. Sugary foods do not directly cause decay, but they can provide food for oral bacteria, which produce the acids that lead to decay. This includes sweets as well as carbohydrates, which break down into sugars. Certain beverages are also acidic, which can contribute to decay.

• Dry mouth. This is a condition in which your mouth does not have enough saliva. This creates an environment perfect for bacterial growth.

How Do I Know if I Have Decay or Cavities?

Decay causes your tooth enamel to weaken. As the enamel weakens, white spots form on your teeth. As the decay worsens, you may also begin to notice symptoms that can indicate a cavity, including:

• Pain in your tooth.

• Tooth sensitivity, particularly when eating something hot or cold.

• A noticeable pit in the surface of your tooth.

Treating Tooth Decay

The early stages of decay can be reversed. There are a few ways this can be done. You can reverse decay by brushing your teeth with a fluoridated toothpaste. It is important that you work to improve your oral hygiene routine by brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Decay can also be reversed with professional fluoride treatments.
Unlike decay, cavities cannot be reversed. They can, however, be treated, protecting the health of your mouth. Treatments for cavities include:

• Fillings. A filling is one of the most common treatments for a cavity.

• Inlays and onlays. These types of fillings are meant to treat cavities on the chewing surfaces of your molars.

• Dental crowns. A crown encases the entire visible surface of a decayed tooth. This treatment may be recommended if the cavity is too large to treat with a filling.

• Root canals. A root canal may be recommended if the tooth becomes infected. After the root canal, the tooth is provided with a crown.

How Can I Prevent Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay can be prevented. One of the most important things you can do to prevent decay is to make sure that you brush and floss your teeth regularly, as well as have your teeth professionally cleaned and examined. When you brush, use a fluoridated toothpaste. You can also help to prevent the formation of decay by maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet and limiting the number of sweets and carbohydrates you eat.

The earlier tooth decay is noticed and addressed, the easier it is to eliminate.
For more information, and to schedule your appointment, contact Myers Dental at (512) 506-9889 today.

2222 Dental
10601 Ranch Rd 2222, Suite S
Austin, TX 78730
Phone: 512-234-3983
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