Tooth decay is a disease within the tooth that causes it to break. The disease damages the teeth. There is a sticky film of bacteria that covers the teeth, called plaque. After you eat, the bacteria turns the sugars from your meal into acids. In turn, the acid breaks down the enamel of the tooth. If the decay breaks through the tooth enamel, a hole or cavity can form. Cavities spread deeper into the tooth if left untreated. Untreated tooth decay can lead to pain in other areas of the mouth, and if left untreated, you may even lose the teeth. Tooth pain can be severe, and oral health is a top priority.
Tooth decay can damage any of your teeth and can form in any area. Most commonly, it can be found between teeth, and in the grooves of teeth in the back of the mouth. This is because food mostly collects in these areas, and it can be missed with brushing. The bristles of a standard toothbrush don’t get into every groove and crevice of the mouth. Decay can also form at the root of the tooth, and damage can go below the gumline.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it may be due to tooth decay:
- Toothache: If you begin to experience a sudden onset of tooth pain, followed by throbbing pain that gets a bit worse as days go by, you may be experiencing tooth pain related to decay.
- Feeling Pressure: If you are experiencing a feeling of pressure when you bite down or chew on food, it could be a sign of tooth decay. Pressure is a sign of a hurt tooth.
- Gum Pus: If you see pus that is coming out of your gums or surrounding one (or more) of your teeth, you may have a badly decaying tooth.
- Pits on the Teeth: If you have holes on your teeth, you are experiencing tooth decay.
- Sensitivity: If your teeth and gums feel sensitive when you bite into something too hot or too cold, you may have tooth decay. Of course, this is beyond the ordinary sensitivity, and seems like more of a pain that you feel.
- Bleeding Gums: If your gums bleed throughout the day or during bushing, it may be a sign of tooth decay.
- Swollen Gums: If your gums appear swollen, you may be experiencing tooth decay.
- Discoloration: If your teeth have black or brown sports on the enamel, it could mean that the tooth is decaying.
- Unpleasant Breath: If you find yourself constantly brushing your teeth, and still find that you have unpleasant breath, you could be experiencing tooth decay.
If you are worried about tooth decay and are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should consult with a dental professional at your earliest convenience. If tooth decay is found early, it is an easier treatment process, and preventative maintenance can be done so it does not reoccur.
Common treatments of tooth decay include:
- Fluoride Treatment (for decay that is caught early on)
- Fillings (if a cavity has formed)
- Crowns (for large cavities)
- Root Canal (for infected tooth pulp)
- Removal (for teeth that are too damaged to repair)
In order to lower your risk for tooth decay, brush often with a fluoridated toothpaste. You should be brushing a minimum of twice a day for two minutes per brushing. Flossing is a great way to get to those hard to reach areas between the teeth, and can help to remove built up food particles. It is also important to watch how much sugar you eat, as the acids that are created can become an issue over time.
Visiting your dentist regularly is the best way to prevent and address tooth decay. When tooth decay is found early, the corrective measures are milder and less costly. Don’t hesitate to contact a dental professional if you are experiencing any symptoms that could be related to tooth decay.