Tooth decay is the destruction of the tooth enamel, the hard, outer layer of the teeth. It can be a problem for children, teens and adults. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, constantly forms on the teeth. When one eats or drinks foods containing sugars, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with the teeth and over time the enamel can break down. This is when cavities can form.
HOW IS TOOTH DECAY DIAGNOSED?
A Dentist diagnoses Tooth Decay by performing a complete dental examination and X-rays to examine the extent of the cavity.
HOW IS TOOTH DECAY TREATED?
In adults, dentists can apply sealants on molars that have early signs of tooth decay, as long as the decay has not broken through the enamel. Once the enamel has been irreversibly compromised, your dentist will have to fill the tooth. In more serious cases, a root canal may be necessary.
In children, both baby molars and permanent molars can be sealed. Dentists can also apply fluoride varnish on both primary and permanent teeth to protect them from decay.
DID YOU KNOW?
Cavities are a result of poor oral hygiene and retained dental plaque on the tooth surface. Specific bacteria in plaque cause decay. Different types of bacteria in plaque, retained near the gum line, cause gum disease to occur, which is a condition that the dentist and periodontist can help treat. Because cavities can penetrate deep into the tooth structure as far as the nerve, one may also experience sensitivity with certain foods and drinks.