Dealing with Decay
When most people think about tooth decay or cavities, they might think back to something they might have experienced in childhood. In reality, dental caries (more commonly known as cavities) are the most common dental problem experienced by both children and adults.
What is tooth decay?
We have billions of bacteria in our mouth. While most are harmless and even beneficial to our health, others are not. The bad bacteria on our teeth, or plaque, break down the food and drinks we consume into acid. This acid breaks down the hard coating on our teeth called enamel. If this softening of the enamel is not treated, a cavity will form. Certain hard to reach places such as the gum line and the chewing surfaces of your molars are at higher risk of developing decay. While the earlier stages of a cavity may not be painful, the longer it goes untreated the more pain you are likely to experience.
Stages of Tooth Decay
The initial stages of tooth decay are not painful which is why it is important to see your dentist regularly for preventative care. Less invasive procedures such as fillings may be appropriate at this stage. Once the decay progresses, you may experience pain and need a root canal or tooth extractions if the decay is severe.
I think I have a cavity, what happens next?
If you suspect you may have a cavity or are experiencing tooth pain, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible. As tooth decay travels through the tooth, a severe infection can occur under the gums. This can be very painful and can also have negative effects on your overall health.
Your dentist will most likely take an x-ray to determine where the cavity is located and how severe the decay is. Depending on the stage of the decay, a filling may be the appropriate treatment. The decay will be removed from the tooth and it will be filled in. With more severe decay, a root canal may be required.
How can I prevent cavities?
Making sure you regularly practice good oral hygiene is the greatest way to protect yourself from developing any cavities at home. Brushing twice a day with high-fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily is the best defense. Also, be sure to limit your intake of sugary drinks and snacks that encourage the production of acid that breaks down enamel.
Preventative dentistry is your number one tool in avoiding fillings or painful root canals. Because most early-stage cavities do not cause any pain, they can usually only be identified by your dentist through x-rays during an oral exam or teeth cleaning with your hygienist. Catching decay early can save you toothaches and dollars.
Don’t pay for expensive fillings or suffer from decayed teeth. Visit your dentist every 6 months for the cleanings and oral exams you need to keep your teeth healthy. If you are experiencing pain or think you might have a cavity, contact Elmhurst Dental Care today at (630) 833-5110 or visit our office in Elmhurst at 333 W First Street, Elmhurst, IL 60126.