If you've ever experienced a bad toothache, you may instantly associate that with a cavity. But did you know there are actually other symptoms of tooth decay that you should be aware of? I’m going to go over symptoms to look for so that you can receive prompt treatment, relieve your pain and remove the source of the problem.
What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay presents as damaged areas in a tooth, which may be small openings or holes on the outer surface of the tooth. Cavities or caries are common names for tooth decay.
What causes tooth decay?
Tooth decay occurs when the outer surface, or enamel, of a tooth becomes damaged. This occurs due to the presence of bacteria that create acids that damage the tooth enamel, leading to dental caries or cavities found in the teeth.
Tooth decay is extremely common. About one-in-five Americans has untreated tooth decay at any given time. Almost 80% of people experience at least one cavity before reaching the age of 34.
How to know if you have tooth decay:
- Tooth pain or toothache
- Increasing sensitivity to extreme temperatures or sweets
- Bleeding or swollen gums
- Visible pits or holes in a tooth
- A dental abscess that leads to pain, fever and facial swelling
- Teeth that become fractured or chipped due to weakened enamel
How is tooth decay treated?
There are a number of different techniques that a dentist can use to treat tooth decay, including:
- Fluoride. This is an antibacterial substance containing high levels of fluoride. It is useful for treating very small cavities to assist in lesion re-mineralization. It can be used for those who may not be core operative for a conventional filling
- Dental fillings. This is how cavities are traditionally treated. We will remove the decay from your tooth and restore it using a filling material like amalgam or composite resin.
- Dental crown. A crown is made from materials like metal, porcelain or gold. Crowns are used for repairing and replacing weakened or decayed areas of a tooth. They cover the complete surface of the tooth to strengthen a tooth affected by tooth decay.
- Root canal. Useful for whenever tooth nerves die due to injury or decay. The dental pulp is removed and replaced by an inert material like gutta-percha.
- Extraction. Only used in cases where pulp damage cannot be repaired.
If you are experiencing any signs of tooth decay, please contact our office right away so that you can receive prompt pain relief and treatment for the underlying condition.
Thanks for your support!
- Dr. Houlik