Damage to your enamel leads to cavities, infection, and even tooth loss. Understanding tooth decay is key to keeping your smile beautiful and healthy.
Dr. Matthew Bridges at Chisholm Trail Smile Center is a highly experienced and compassionate Duncan dentist. He is dedicated to working with anxious patients to provide dental care that is stress-free so you don’t avoid the dentist and risk oral health problems.
To help you stay informed about the health and safety of your teeth, here are 8 facts you should know about tooth decay.
1. Bacteria cause tooth decay.
There are both good and bad bacteria in the mouth. A healthy mouth has a balanced oral microbiome. An unhealthy mouth has an excess of bad bacteria that cause tooth decay. These bacteria mix with the food we eat to form plaque that clings to our teeth. The plaque then creates acids that erode the enamel and lead to cavities.
2. Excessive sugar intake increases your risk of cavities.
Because the bacteria feed on sugar and starch, eating a lot of sugary snacks greatly increases your risk of developing tooth decay. Soda, alcohol, citrus fruits, bread, and candy are just a few of the foods and drinks you should limit to protect your enamel.
3. Decay is more common than you think.
Tooth decay causes significant pain and suffering and affects a lot of the population. Despite being preventable, dental caries (tooth decay) is one of the most common diseases. Research has shown that 92% of adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have had tooth decay in at least one of their permanent teeth.
4. Babies and toddlers can also have tooth decay.
Adults are not the only ones who can get cavities. Babies and toddlers are at an increased risk for tooth decay because they are given bottles and sippy cups. Drinking juice or taking a bottle before bed can cause cavities in young children since the sugars remain on their teeth overnight.
5. Symptoms may vary.
Depending on the severity and location of the tooth decay, you may experience a range of different symptoms. These might include:
- Sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet
- Surface stains that are white, brown, or black
- A toothache or severe tooth pain
- Visible pits in your teeth
- An abscess from an infection
However, you may not experience any symptoms at all during the early stages of dental decay, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Routine visits to your Duncan dentist are the best way to catch tooth decay early before it becomes severe.
6. If left untreated, complications can be fatal.
If you seek treatment right away, it is unlikely that your long-term health will be in any danger. However, infections can arise from untreated dental decay. If these infections spread to the brain, they can cause death in severe cases.
7. Treatment depends on severity.
The best option for treating tooth decay depends on how advanced it is. A few common treatment options are:
- Fluoride treatment. This option works best if you are in the very early stages of dental decay. Fluoride can help your enamel repair itself and reverse the decaying process.
- Fillings. A dental filling is when amalgam or composite resin is used to fill in and seal the parts of a tooth that have suffered from decay. Dr. Bridges and his dental team in Duncan, OK are experienced in placing fillings to keep your smile healthy.
- Root canal treatment. If the damage has spread to the pulp inside your tooth, you may need a root canal procedure. Your dentist will clear the decayed pulp and then clean and fill the inside of the tooth and root. Then you will be fitted with a permanent crown to protect the tooth from further damage.
8. Tooth decay is preventable.
You can take action to prevent tooth decay and keep your teeth strong and healthy. Here are the best ways to prevent cavities:
- Brush and floss regularly
- Eat healthy, balanced meals
- Cut-out tobacco products
- Visit the dentist every six months for regular check-ups and cleanings
Tooth Decay Treatment From Our Dentist in Duncan, OK
Tooth decay does not go away on its own. The only way to properly take care of damage from dental decay is to visit the dentist as soon as possible.
For quality service in a relaxing environment, contact Chisholm Trail Smile Center. Call our office at 580-255-4880 today to schedule an appointment.