Tooth decay is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in both children and adults, but it is preventable. There are often no symptoms until it has progressed to the point of cavities or a tooth abscess (infection). Once you begin to feel pain, it’s important that you come in to see our team at Riccobene Associates Family Dentistry so we can create a treatment plan. You should also be coming in regularly so we can keep an eye out for early warning signs and help you maintain a healthy smile.
What Is Tooth Decay?
Bacteria occurs naturally in the mouth, but when it combines with the sugars from the food you eat, it produces acid. This acid is what causes tooth decay because it eats away at tooth enamel. This can eventually cause cavities or infections, signs of which include:
- Gum swelling
- Bad breath
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Discoloration on the teeth, particularly gray, brown, or black spots
You may be at risk for tooth decay if your diet contains a lot of sugar or carbs, you don’t get enough fluoride, or you don’t produce enough saliva.
Preventing Tooth Decay
In order to prevent dental problems, it’s important to have a good at-home hygiene routine in addition to coming in for regular dental check-ups. We want you to feel confident in the care you receive at Riccobene Associates Family Dentistry, so we work side-by-side with you to create a dental care plan tailored to your needs. In addition to routine visits, there are some steps you can take to prevent tooth decay:
- Eat healthy foods and avoid too much sugar
- Brush at least twice daily for two minutes each time, and floss daily
- Use mouthwash regularly
- Consider regular fluoride treatments, and use at-home products that contain fluoride
- Have dental sealants placed to protect the chewing surfaces of back teeth
Treatment of Tooth Decay
Treating tooth decay can help reverse it and save your natural teeth. We’ll recommend a treatment plan based on the severity of your tooth decay.
- Filling: We can remove the decay and fill the hole with a tooth-colored material.
- Crown: This tooth-shaped cap replaces the damaged area of the tooth and protects the whole tooth against future decay or damage.
- Root canal: If there is infection in the tooth pulp, we can remove the infected pulp and fill the interior of the tooth to seal out bacteria. We can then use a crown to protect the tooth further.
- Extraction: While we always want to save your natural tooth if possible, if decay is severe, we may need to remove the damaged tooth.
FAQs About Tooth Decay
What is a tooth abscess?
An abscess is an infection in the root of a tooth or between the tooth and gum. It’s the result of severe tooth decay. Signs of a tooth abscess include fever, tooth pain, sensitivity, bad breath, swelling in the gums or jaw, and open sores.
Is tooth pain a sign of tooth decay?
Tooth pain can be a sign of tooth decay, but it can also be a sign of other oral health issues. If you have tooth pain, especially with sudden onset or pain that lingers, call your dentist for an appointment.
Is tooth extraction necessary if you have tooth decay?
In the case of severe tooth decay, the best course of action may be an extraction. We prefer to treat tooth decay with other methods first, though. If an extraction is necessary, we will go over the procedure in detail with you so you know what to expect.
If you think you might have tooth decay, or you just want to schedule your routine exam, call our team at one of our Riccobene Associates Family Dentistry locations.
Keep Cavities at Bay!
Schedule your next dental checkup today!