Tooth decay commonly leads to cavities or dental caries. Broadway Family Dental offers tooth decay treatment to repair your smile. Decay, indirectly caused by food left between teeth, eats away at your enamel, creating a hole in a tooth. You can’t cure tooth decay, but you can prevent it with regular brushing, flossing and visits to your dentist.
What is Tooth Decay?
A hole in a tooth is the direct result of untreated tooth decay. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 90 percent of adults aged 20 to 64 have had some tooth decay in their lives. And the Centers for Disease Control reports that almost 30 percent of Americans have untreated tooth decay.
When plaque builds up in your mouth, it breaks down the enamel of your teeth, leading to tooth decay. Plaque is more common among children and young adults, but everyone’s at risk. If left untreated, tooth decay can result in tooth pain and more serious infections, including tooth loss.
Common Symptoms of Tooth Decay
The symptoms vary, depending on the size and location of the affected tooth. The more obvious signs of tooth decay include:
- A noticeable hole in a tooth
- A toothache ranging from mild to sharp
- Sensitivity when consuming something hot, cold or very sweet
- Discolored or stained tooth
- Pain when chewing or biting down
Tooth Decay Causes
Your teeth are protected by a hard enamel coating. Starches, sugars and sticky foods promote tooth decay because they adhere to the enamel and create acids. These acids encourage bacteria, which destroy the tooth’s hard, outer enamel.
Once past the enamel, bacteria and acid can more easily reach the dentin. Dentin is softer than enamel and less resistant to acid. If left untreated, the bacteria and acid spread, making another hole in a tooth — the same or a different tooth — progressing to the pulp. The pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels, can become swollen and infected from the bacteria, causing pain and discomfort.
Preventing Tooth Decay
While you can’t cure tooth decay, good oral hygiene habits can help prevent the disease. Some easy practices to avoid getting a hole in a tooth include:
- Brush with fluoride toothpaste after each meal or at least twice a day
- Floss between your teeth at least daily
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional teeth cleanings and regular oral exams — your family dentist may recommend a fluoride mouth rinse or periodic fluoride treatments
- Consider dental sealants, protective plastic coatings applied to the surface of back teeth, which typically last five to ten years, but still need to be checked regularly
- Practice healthy eating habits by not snacking throughout the day and by avoiding sweet, starchy or sticky foods —replace them with fresh fruits and vegetables
- Avoid bedtime infant feeding because the beverages remain on your baby’s teeth for hours while he sleeps, feeding decay-causing bacteria
Types of Tooth Decay
Your family dentist can detect and determine the type of tooth decay by:
- Inquiring about your tooth pain and sensitivity
- Examining and probing your mouth and teeth
- Looking at dental X-rays, which can show the extent of tooth decay
There are three types of tooth decay: smooth surface, pit and fissure, and root. Your dentist can determine which of the three types of tooth decay or cavities you have:
- Smooth Surface Cavities. These cavities occur on the flat exterior surface of your teeth.
- Pit and Fissure Cavities. These cavities are found on the chewing surfaces of your teeth, usually in the back of your mouth.
- Root Cavities. These cavities appear on the surface of your teeth. They most commonly occur among older adults who are more likely to have receding gums and other gum disorders.
Tooth Decay Brooklyn, NY Treatment Options
Your New York family dentist offers a variety of tooth decay treatments, such as:
- Fluoride treatments. If tooth decay is in a very early stage, a fluoride treatment may help restore your tooth’s enamel.
- Fillings. A filling is your dentist’s main tooth decay treatment option when the decay has progressed beyond the earliest stage.
- Crowns. For extensive tooth decay, you may need a crown. A crown is a custom-fitted cap that replaces your tooth’s entire natural crown.
- Root canals. If the decay has reached the pulp of your tooth, you may need a root canal. The dentist removes the decayed tooth pulp and replaces it.
- Tooth extractions. When a tooth is so severely decayed that it can’t be restored, then it must be removed.
By practicing good oral hygiene habits and keeping your regularly scheduled dental checkups, you can lower your odds of getting tooth decay. But if you ever have troubling symptoms, the sooner you seek care, the better your chances of reversing the earliest stages of tooth decay and preventing its progression.
Do you have any questions for dentist Dr. Ella Dekhtyar about tooth decay treatment? Would you like to schedule an appointment with the best dentist in Brooklyn Dr. Dekhtyar of Broadway Family Dentistry, please contact our office for consultation.
Brooklyn, NY 11221
☎ (718) 455-4400