Everyone in the Treasure Valley is at risk for developing tooth decay. These risks are further heightened for those who consume lots of sugar throughout the day. Although tooth decay is a common Boise dental problem, it is easily preventable with the right knowledge. That’s why Summit Dental would like to provide you with the following guide to tooth decay.
Understanding Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is caused by the development of dental plaque – a thin biofilm that contains harmful bacteria – on your teeth. Though naturally occurring, eating and drinking large amounts of sugar throughout the day can feed the bacteria in your plaque. This excess bacteria then produces acid that eats away at the enamel of your teeth. Left untreated, plaque buildup will break down your enamel and damage the inner layers of a tooth.
How It Starts
The first stage of tooth decay is usually a small, discolored spot on a tooth’s surface. This spot is caused by mineral deficiency due to the buildup of plaque. While you may not feel tooth decay at this stage, it’s important to brush and floss your teeth and visit your Boise dentist for regular examinations and cleanings. With a little care and attention, this demineralized spot may go away on its own without the need for a cavity filling procedure.
First Symptom: Minor Sensitivity
When a demineralized spot is left untreated, acidic plaque can break down your tooth’s enamel. This can cause minor sensitivity due to soft, porous enamel. At this stage of tooth decay, a cavity develops, which will need a dental filling treatment at your Boise dental office.
Second Symptom: Major Sensitivity
If a cavity is left ignored, bacteria can eat entirely through your tooth’s enamel to the dentin layer. When this happens, you will begin to experience major sensitivity along with pain when you eat certain foods. At this stage of tooth decay, your dentist at Summit Dental Group will likely recommend a larger filling or dental crown.
Third Symptom: Infection
Inside the hollow area of your tooth is a soft mass of dental pulp. When bacteria reach this area, your tooth will become infected. At this stage of root decay, you will most likely experience intense pain and difficulty eating. This is when a root canal may be necessary to drain the infection and remove damaged nerves at the root before being filled.
Fourth Symptom: Abscess
The final stage of tooth decay is the most dangerous and painful. If an infection is left ignored, it can spread to other areas of your mouth, such as your gums, jawbone, or tongue. When this happens, a tooth is typically removed through extraction, and antibiotics are usually prescribed.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Good oral hygiene can prevent the onset of tooth decay. This includes regular brushing and flossing while minimizing your sugar intake to reduce plaque buildup. Twice a year visits to your Boise dental office are also recommended to prevent early-stage decay. However, the development of a cavity will require a clinical procedure to restore your tooth back to normal.
For all your oral health concerns, Summit Dental Group offers patient-centered care in a calming atmosphere. To prevent or treat tooth decay, contact us today by filling out our online form or call our Boise dental office at (208) 345-8962.