Tooth decay is one of the most common health problems in the world and studies have shown that practically everyone will develop at least one cavity in their lifetime. While this medical issue is extremely common, patients will be glad to hear that it is also treatable and will typically not cause permanent damage if it is caught early. Here is a look at how tooth decay develops, signs you may have a cavity, and what your treatment options are.
Where Does Tooth Decay Come From?
A person’s mouth is full of both good and bad bacteria. The good bacteria begin the process of metabolizing food before it reaches the stomach. The bad bacteria, on the other hand, turn the food that we eat into acids that will attack our teeth and gums. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash multiple times a day is the best way to remove food debris and bad bacteria from one’s mouth. When this does not take place, then the acid will damage the outer layers of one’s teeth and cause cavities (dental caries).
Signs You May Have a Cavity
The most common sign that a patient has a cavity is tooth discoloration. Unfortunately, the discoloration may not be visible depending on where the cavity is. Patients may also experience discomfort ranging from a dull throb when they first wake up to sharp pain when eating or drinking. With more extensive damage, a patient will find that his or her teeth are sensitive to hot and cold foods such as ice cream and coffee. It also important for patients that bleed after brushing or flossing to schedule a checkup as they may have either gum disease or tooth decay.
Your treatment Options
Every cavity is slightly different and there is no single treatment that is going to work for every patient. In their earliest stages, cavities are often referred to as microcavities and can be treated with fluoride washes and remineralisation products to reverse the damage before it is permanent. Cavities that have broken through the outer layer of enamel and are attacking the dentin of the tooth can be treated with metal or composite fillings.
At a certain point, patients with untreated cavities may need to explore more comprehensive treatments to preserve the tooth or prevent the tooth decay from spreading to other teeth. A dentist may suggest the use of metal or porcelain crowns to encapsulate the tooth entirely. If the decay has spread all the way to the root of a tooth, then a root canal might be needed or the tooth will be taken out completely and replaced with an implant. Tooth extractions are generally used as a last resort when the damage is irreversible.
At Runnels Orthodontics, we understand the important of good oral health habits – especially for patients with braces or other orthodontic appliances. Keeping your mouth clean and preventing tooth decay will ensure your smile looks its best for many years to come. To schedule your consultation, contact Runnels Orthodontics today.