What are the signs of tooth decay?
Most of us have had the experience of needing a dental filling due to tooth decay at some point in our lives. This decay can happen for a variety of reasons but is primarily due the frequency and types of food and drink choices that we make. Snacking on sugary foods or sipping sugary fizzy drinks encourages plaque formation on your teeth. The bacteria in the dental plaque produce acid when you eat and drink. The more frequently that you consume sugary fizzy foods and drinks, the more occurrences of these acid attacks on your teeth. This increases the likelihood that the acid will erode the protective enamel tooth layer causing a cavity.
As the decay develops, patients will sometimes experience symptoms of tooth sensitivity and/or tooth pain. However, occasionally the decay can be quite advanced, and the patient is completely unaware that they have a dental problem.
If not discovered and treated, the decay can advance into the softer dentin layer of the tooth, as shown in the diagram above. Eventually the decay could reach the pulp/nerve of the tooth creating an abscess. At this stage, a patient will typically experience pain due to the abscess/dying nerve and a root canal would be required to save the tooth.
The goal of preventative dental care is to remedy the dental decay early before it causes significant damage to the tooth structure.
There are several things that you can do to help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
- Limit snacking on sugary foods or drinking sugary fizzy drinks, particularly between meals.
- Ensure that you have a regular dental examination with your dentist. This is critical in detecting the signs of tooth decay early.
- Brush and floss your teeth and gums at least twice a day. This will help to limit the build-up of dental plaque on and between your teeth.
- Have a professional hygienist clean as recommended by your dentist. The hygienist can provide a much more thorough dental cleaning which can remove dental plaque and stubborn tartar from your teeth both above and below gum level.
If you have any concerns about your teeth, give our friendly reception team a ring on 01489 572308 to book an examination with one of our lovely dentists.