One day, you’re eating something fairly standard, when you notice a sharp pain when you bite down, or maybe you feel a sharp edge on your tooth that’s irritating the side of your tongue. It could be that you simply see a dark spot on your gum line while you’re brushing your teeth. All of these signs point to having a cavity and requires the attention of your Cary family dentist.
A cavity, or tooth decay, is a permanently damaged area of your tooth that has turned into a hole or opening in your enamel. It’s caused by plaque, the film of bacteria that is constantly forming on your teeth. Bacteria in plaque creates acids that can wear away at the tooth’s surface, and once the wear reaches the dentin layer below enamel, a cavity develops.
Preventing the Spread of Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is not always as noticeable as the examples listed earlier. In fact, tooth decay is often not even visible to the eye in its early stages. That’s why, regular dental checkups are essential where your dentist can do x-rays and a thorough exam to make sure your teeth are health and stop any decay in its tracks.
Once tooth decay has occurred, there’s no restoring the tooth enamel back to it’s original state. If you do see a cavity or area of decay, the only thing you can do is contact a dentist immediately. Even if you are brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and using a mouth rinse, the decayed area is still vulnerable to continued damage, so it’s necessary to get it fixed sooner, rather than later. In most cases, decay can be stopped with a simple dental filling.
Getting a filling is simple and generally painless. First, the decayed area of the tooth is removed, and the affected space is cleaned. The space is then filled with a restorative material, generally a composite resin that is made from a tooth-colored material so no one notices it.
The Dangers of Untreated Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is not always as noticeable as the examples listed earlier. In fact, tooth decay is often not even visible to the eye in its early stages. However, it doesn’t take long for a small cavity to turn into a dental emergency.
As decay spreads through the tooth, bacteria can enter deep into the dental pulp where the blood vessels, roots, and nerves are located, leading to an abscess that is both dangerous and painful. Also, tooth decay weakens the tooth, making it susceptible to breaking or cracking. When a tooth has abscessed or broken, often, a dental filling is not an option, and the next step is either a tooth extraction or a root canal.
Preventing Tooth Decay Before It Starts
Of course, the best thing to do is prevent tooth decay before it starts. The best way to do this is to follow these recommendations:
Sugar feeds the bacteria that causes decay. Soda, which contains sugar and acids, hard or sticky candy, and sugared gum are all detrimental to your dental health.
Water rinses your teeth between times of brushing and flossing, preventing any food debris from clinging to your teeth and becoming plaque. Also, water boosts saliva production, which also protects your teeth and slows plaque formation.
Practice Good Dental Habits at Home
Like we said earlier, you should brush twice a day, using the right kind of toothbrush and an ADA-approved toothpaste, and floss daily. This is your first line of defense toward preventing plaque, tartar build up, and tooth decay.
Visit Your Family Dentist Regularly
Again, we know we said it before, but it bears repeating – schedule regular appointments with your Cary family dentist. The thorough cleaning will remove any tartar build up, while the x-rays and exam will make sure your teeth are healthy. If there are areas of concern, your dentist will work with you to create a treatment plan.
Contact Our Cary Family Dentist to Prevent Tooth Decay
Whether you’ve noticed a cavity or want to prevent it from occurring, Beavers Family Dentistry in Cary can help you keep a healthy smile! Contact us today at 919-467-0654 or fill out our contact form to schedule your appointment!