Tooth Decay Treatment
What is tooth decay?
Dental decay is a condition whereby a hole or cavity is formed in a tooth. This can commence on the inside and may not be initially noticeable. As this progresses, the tooth may begin to feel sensitive to temperature. Later still, the decay reaches the nerve and this may result in a strong throbbing toothache, which may need pain killers. This may be a sign that decay is deep and has reached the nerve.
What causes tooth decay?
As with all health conditions, some of us are more susceptible due to our genetics. Some individuals have weak teeth in their family and are more prone to tooth decay.
Tooth decay is caused by bacterial plaque on teeth over time. As the plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth, they will be exposed to more food substances. Some, such as carbohydrates, in sugary drinks and foods, are broken down in our mouth by these bacteria to produce acid. It is this acid which attacks the teeth, effectively robbing them of calcium, and starting the decay process.
As health is a balance of our genetics and lifestyle habits, there will be individuals who may have decay with lower levels of sugar consumption. Nevertheless, decay, once started, will progress if the balance is in favour of decay. As the tooth is made up of different layers, decay will progress at different rates – slowly through the highly mineralised enamel, and faster through the softer dentine. As decay approaches the nerve, this can result in a severe toothache.
What can I do about tooth decay?
Prevention is always preferred. This involves oral hygiene habits such as regular brushing and flossing. Take a look at the amount and how often sugar is consumed. This may need to be reduced. Regular dental visits, including x-rays, are important, as early decay may be seen but not felt.
Once decay has been identified, treatment will need to commence . This usually involves a direct restoration, or filling. If the decay has reached the nerve, this may also be affected and root canal treatment may be necessary.
Unfortunately for some who leave it too late, these options may not be suitable as the damage may be very extensive. Tooth decay which has destroyed most of the tooth may require extraction.
What happens if I don’t treat it?
Decay worsens with time. This will not only damage more tooth structure, but may also affect the nerve. This increases the chance of a severe toothache. An extensive cavity will weaken the tooth, leading to a more complicated repair, which is likely to be more expensive and require further ongoing maintenance. Early treatment increases the chance of a favourable and economical outcome.