Your overall health can be heavily impacted by your oral health. One of the best ways to prevent tooth decay, cavities, or other complications is by keeping your teeth in good condition.
Cavities that are left untreated are major teeth destroyers and have the potential to create more severe issues. That’s why it is essential to know the common symptoms of tooth decay and to see your dentist quickly if you have one.
What Is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay–which can lead to the development of dental caries or a tooth cavity–is an oral disease that causes the breakdown of tooth enamel. It’s caused by the buildup of bacteria in your mouth, which eventually forms plaque. The bacteria present in dental plaque produce acids that can wear down the enamel on the surface of your teeth.
Brushing and flossing daily can help remove sticky plaque. However, if the plaque is allowed to gather in your teeth, it can eat away at your teeth and create cavities. Cavities form holes in your teeth and, if left untreated, can cause damage to your teeth.
When cavities are left untreated, they can also create other serious complications such as tooth abscesses or life-threatening infections.
Common Symptoms of Tooth Decay
The symptoms of tooth decay can vary between patients and also depend on the severity of the damage. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, some individuals in the early stages of tooth decay may feel no symptoms. However, as it progresses, a person may experience the following symptoms:
- Persistent tooth pain
- Bad breath
- White or dark spots on the teeth
- Cavities in the teeth
- Difficulty biting certain foods
- Loose fillings
- Food trapped in the teeth
- Abscesses on the teeth that cause pain, fever, or facial swelling
- Tooth sensitivity
Tooth Decay Treatments in Matthews, NC
Your dentist will recommend some treatments for tooth decay depending on the severity. The treatments for tooth decay can include:
Early-Stage Fluoride Treatments
A dentist can make use of fluoride in different ways to help stop and repair the damage caused by tooth decay. Fluoride is a mineral that can help strengthen the tooth enamel. It can come in the form of a gel, foam, solution, or varnish.
Fluoride treatments can be directly applied to the teeth. The treatments are quick and only take a few minutes.
When tooth decay turns into a cavity, a dental filling can be a viable treatment option. During a dental filling, the tooth is drilled to remove any form of decay, and the cavity is shaped to fit the filling. Your dentist may then make use of a dental composite or amalgam to fill the cavity.
Larger cavities that occur due to tooth decay may require a dental crown procedure instead of a filling. Before placing the crown, your dentist will first extract the outer portion of the decayed tooth and then take an impression of the tooth. A temporary crown will be fitted until the permanent one is ready for fitting.
When tooth pulp is damaged, your dentist can perform a root canal to prevent the need for an extraction. Before removing the pulp, your dentist will apply a local anesthesia to numb the tooth. Then, the dentist will clean and shape the root canal inside the tooth.
The root canal will be filled with a rubber-like substance, and a filling or crown will be placed on the tooth to strengthen and restore it.
If tooth decay has caused serious damage, your dentist may recommend a tooth extraction. Anesthesia will be applied to numb the damaged tooth before it is extracted. After the procedure is done, your dentist will recommend a post-extraction regime.
Patients may feel pain or notice swelling after a tooth extraction, which is quite normal. However, if you experience fever, nausea, or persistent pain, you should see your dentist immediately.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay
Tooth decay can be prevented by maintaining good dental habits such as:
- Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice daily and flossing once a day
- Eating or drinking healthy meals and drinks
- Avoiding snacking
- Requesting fluoride supplements from your dentist
- Visiting your dentist regularly at least every six months for checkups and professional cleanings
When to See Your Dentist in Matthews, NC
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your teeth or any of the above-listed symptoms, you should contact your dentist. You can also schedule regular visits with your dentist to prevent tooth decay. At Fine Art Dentistry, we prioritize our patient’s oral health and ensure we provide them with the care they need. Contact us today to learn more about tooth decay treatments in Matthews, NC.