Tooth decay is an extremely common problem that we face as Americans – over 90 percent of us suffer from at least one cavity in our mouths, and over 25 percent of us have untreated tooth decay. While tooth decay is a common condition, that does not mean that it is harmless. If left untreated, it can lead to serious and lasting complications such as infection, tooth loss, and even life-threatening illness.
Fortunately, tooth decay is not only treatable; it is quite preventable, too. We here at [[[CLIENTX:PracticeName]]] strongly believe that a team effort between yourself and us, including a good oral hygiene regimen and routine dental appointments, can help prevent you from developing problems that could arise from tooth decay.
What is Tooth Decay or Dental Caries?
Tooth decay is a disease that is caused when the bacteria in your mouth can penetrate the hard, outer layer of your teeth, which called your enamel. Your enamel is the hardest material in your body, but even as tough and durable as it is, it is no match to repeated exposure to bacteria. When the bacteria can damage your enamel and target the soft inner parts of your tooth, then a cavity or caries can form.
What are the Symptoms of Tooth Decay to Watch For?
The signs of tooth decay can vary from patient to patient. One of the more common signs that you may have tooth decay is the presence of pain in your tooth. It may be especially uncomfortable when exposed to heat or cold, or when eating or drinking sugary foods or drinks. The pain may also be present when you try to bite or chew, as well. However, please note that pain is not always going to be an indicator that you have tooth decay, and the symptoms of it should not be ignored just because you are not experiencing any discomfort or pain.
Other signs of tooth decay can include dark-colored spots or areas of discoloration on your teeth. Pits or holes can also form. Tooth decay can occur on any surface of your tooth and is not limited just to the chewing surfaces. It can occur in your dental fissures, on the front or the back of your tooth, along with the gum line, and even next to dental restorations such as crowns or fillings.
Prevention and Treatment
Preventing tooth decay is something that requires that you not only maintain a good oral hygiene routine at home but also that you schedule regular appointments with us. We recommend that our patients visit us for a checkup every six months.
Between appointments, make sure you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes per session. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste, and brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. Floss at least once a day, making sure you get the floss between your teeth and up underneath your gum line to remove any trapped bacteria that may be hiding there.
If we encounter a patient who has tooth decay, there are several different treatment options that are available to them. Depending on the severity of the decay, we may offer a filling to help treat it. For more serious decay, an inlay or an onlay may be necessary. Sometimes a crown may be needed to help treat it, as well.
If you would like to learn more about tooth decay, or if it has been longer than six months since your last appointment with us here at [[[CLIENTX:PracticeName]]], please give us a call here at (928) 277-0076 today!
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