What is Tooth Decay
Tooth decay affects approximately 3.6 billion people and is most prevalent in developed countries, due to increased access to sugary foods and beverages. One of the biggest risks of developing tooth decay are among clients who have a diet high in simple sugars, which are the primary energy source for bacteria. Eating a healthy diet, avoiding snacking between meals and limiting sugary drinks and foods as much as possible is one of the most effective ways to avoid developing tooth decay. Certain medications can increase an individual’s risk of developing cavities, such as antidepressants and antihistamines. Additional risk factors of tooth decay include patients with recessed gums, patients who d not properly clean their mouth, and lower socioeconomic status.
Tooth decay develops as a result of acids found in bacteria breaking down the hard tissues of the tooth, which causes cavities to develop. Cavities may be black or yellowish in appearance, and if left untreated, may cause an abscess or infection to develop, can cause inflammation of the gums, and even result in the loss of a tooth. One of the most common indications of tooth decay is sudden sensitivity to sweet drinks or foods or foods that are cold or hot. If a tooth has experienced significant decay, it may suddenly fracture while the individual is chewing. If enough of the tooth has decayed to allow for bacteria to reach the pulp of the tooth, a constant toothache will develop.
In the early stage of tooth decay, you may not exhibit any symptoms depending on where the tooth decay is occurring and its severity. As the decay gets larger, common symptoms you may experience include:
- Toothache for no identifiable reason
- Pain when biting down
- Staining on the surface of your teeth, such as black, brown, or grey spots
- Visible pits or holes in your teeth
- Discomfort when drinking or eating something cold, hot or sweet
- Tooth sensitivity
- Unpleasant taste in mouth
- Chronic halitosis
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
Complications of Tooth Decay
Because it is so common, many people do not take development of tooth decay and cavities seriously, but there are serious and potentially long-lasting complications that can occur if tooth decay occurs and is not corrected, including the following:
- Chewing problems
- Broken or damaged teeth
- Pus or swelling around the tooth
- Tooth abscess
- Tooth loss
- Shift in the positioning of your teeth following tooth loss
- Weight loss or issues with getting proper nutrition because chewing and eating become painful
One of the best things you can do to avoid tooth decay is to practice good oral hygiene habits. Brush and floss your teeth daily and schedule regular dental cleanings at least every six months. Tooth decay can be detected during these exams, and if caught early enough, it may be possible to restore the tooth to proper function. If tooth decay is too severe, it may be necessary to remove the tooth. To ensure your tooth decay does not progress to this point, contact your dentist for a cleaning and examination today.