Tooth decay is one of the most common afflictions among Canadians. In fact, 96% of the adult population has had at least one cavity in their life. Cavities also become more common the older you get.
The good news is that tooth decay is mostly preventable. With good oral hygiene and a careful diet, you may never develop a new cavity in your lifetime. Our guide can help you better understand the causes of tooth decay and outline the steps you can take to avoid any future cavities.
There are three different types of tooth decay:
Tooth decay is the result of a three-step sequence of events.
Once tooth decay occurs, it is difficult to reverse.
Decay will continue to progress until the cavity is drilled and filled. Some dental procedures can disguise the presence of cavities and early decay and improve the look of your teeth. However, these are not considered treatments for this condition. Veneers do offer excellent cosmetic camouflage for areas with large visible fillings, though, so they may still be a good idea after the appropriate treatment has been provided.
Human teeth have three distinct layers: the enamel, the dentin, and the pulp. Untreated tooth decay gradually works its way through all the layers over time. If you have a dental cavity, you can expect it to progress through the following stages:
A dental cavity always starts in the outer layer of your tooth: the enamel. This layer is extremely strong and continually rebuilds itself through a process called remineralization, which happens when your mouth is free from food or food residue. If food particles stay in your mouth for long periods, your teeth will not have enough time to re-mineralize themselves and will begin to decay.
Enamel-stage cavities can sometimes be reversed with good diet and oral hygiene. Many dentists will wait until a cavity has progressed into your tooth’s dentin layer to fill it, but not all. Your dentist’s recommended treatment will depend on how quickly the cavity is progressing, how good your diet and oral hygiene are, and your general dental history.
When a cavity in your tooth’s enamel layer is not treated in time, it will eat through both the enamel and dentin layers of your tooth to reach the pulp layer inside. This layer is directly above your tooth’s nerve, so it is extremely sensitive. A cavity in this layer will probably cause you a lot of pain, and it can only be treated with a root canal and crown.
Periodontitis is not a true stage in the development of tooth decay, but it does often co-occur with advanced decay. This is because if you have not been taking care of your teeth, you have probably also been neglecting your gums. Periodontitis is a serious and irreversible form of gum disease that requires lifelong maintenance to keep it under control.
If you still do not treat a tooth that has become severely decayed, that tooth will start to die. When this happens, it can no longer be saved. The only thing your dentist can do is remove it and replace it with a dental prosthetic like an implant or a bridge. You want to avoid this outcome at all costs, so it is important to never delay cavity treatment when your dentist says it is needed.
Preventing tooth decay is easier than you think. If you want to minimize the number of cavities you will need to have filled in the future, be sure to:
Fluoride’s re-mineralizing properties can be astoundingly effective in preventing tooth decay. Use a toothpaste and mouthwash that contain fluoride to help strengthen your teeth over time. The more often you expose your teeth to fluoride throughout the day, the stronger its effects will be. Your dentist can also give you a professional fluoride treatment.
Brushing your teeth regularly goes a long way toward keeping your plaque levels low. The friction of the brush’s bristles against your teeth disrupts the sticky substance and makes it easier to wash it away. Your toothpaste removes even more plaque and delivers fluoride to your teeth to help them defend against plaque in the future.
Flossing removes plaque from one of the most neglected spaces in your mouth: the spaces between your teeth. This keeps you from developing cavities in those vulnerable areas.
You probably already know that consuming less sugar will help you reduce your risk of tooth decay, but the type and timing of sugar intake are just as important as how much of it you eat.
Sugary drinks are worse for your teeth than sweet foods because they can easily deposit sugar particles into tight spaces between your teeth and into the fissures on your molars.
Similarly, consuming a little bit of sugar frequently throughout the day is much worse than having a lot of sugar all at once. When you do this, your teeth are under constant attack from plaque bacteria. They never get the chance to rebuild themselves through remineralization, and eventually, they start to decay.
Professional teeth cleanings are the only way to reliably remove tartar (hardened plaque) from your teeth. Since tartar can harbour bacteria and cause decay just as easily as plaque, it is important not to let it build up. Visiting your dentist’s office for a cleaning at least once every six months removes this tartar and makes it less likely that your teeth will develop cavities.
A cavity-free future is possible, but you will need the right support to achieve it. At Trillium Smile Dentistry, we want to see you reach this goal. We offer a variety of services to help prevent and control cavities, including teeth cleanings, dietary advice, fluoride treatments, and more.
Worried it might be too late to change your ways? We can also help when the damage has already been done. Cosmetic solutions like front teeth veneers can help you restore your smile’s beauty and make you feel proud to start your new cavity prevention routine. Our periodontal maintenance program can also help you fend off the lasting complications of past oral hygiene neglect and set yourself up for better oral health.
A shattered tooth or painful toothache is distressing enough on its own, but it is far worse when it happens outside of regular dental office hours. Luckily, there is a solution that can get you the care you need. Emergency dentists offer expedited treatment that will get you out of pain and on the road to recovery without having to contend with a long wait. Choosing your emergency dentist before you need one can make it even easier to get timely dental treatment in a crisis.
Emergency dental services are priority care given when time is of the essence. They are usually booked by patients who are experiencing severe pain or dental trauma. You may need an emergency appointment if you have any of the following conditions:
If you have never needed an emergency dentist before, you might not understand why they are important.
Going to an emergency dentist:
There are so many dentists, and choosing the right one can be overwhelming. This is especially true when you are anxious, in pain, and wondering which office has the skills you need.
When you already have an emergency dentist in mind before the issue happens, you know exactly where to go for treatment and relief. There is no need to research dental offices in Mississauga or figure out how to get there. You can just call the clinic and book an appointment.
Tooth pain can be some of the most intense pain you will ever feel, and you will want it to be over as soon as possible. You also have a much better chance of saving a damaged or knocked-out tooth if you get immediate treatment after the injury occurs.
Depending on the time of day when the injury took place, your emergency dentist can often see you within a few hours of your call. This gets you out of pain faster and makes it more likely that your tooth will be saved.
Almost every dental emergency carries some risk of infection, and that risk gets worse the longer you wait to have the problem treated.
An emergency dentist can ensure your tooth’s vulnerable inner tissues are safe from infection. They may also prescribe some antibiotics for you if they feel that is needed.
When dental disasters strike, it can be challenging to think clearly enough to figure out what you should do. These tips will help you take the necessary steps to ensure the best outcomes for specific dental emergencies.
Toothaches and swelling often happen due to food getting stuck under your gums or between your teeth, causing irritation. You can relieve some of your symptoms by swishing some warm salt water around in your mouth. This will soothe some pain and may wash away some of the irritants.
If pain is still a problem at this point, a cold compress may help. Over-the-counter pain medication can also be useful, but do not place the pills against your gums. Despite what you might have heard, this is a dangerous practice that can cause severe chemical burns within your mouth.
A chipped or broken tooth can sometimes be repaired, and it helps to collect and save all the pieces of your tooth to bring with you if possible. If there is swelling around the jaw or you are in pain, try applying a cold compress to the area.
There is no time to waste when you have lost a tooth. Handle it by touching only the crown, or the part that would be above the gum line. Be very careful to never touch the root of the tooth. Pick it up and rinse it with water, then try to place it back in its socket.
If the tooth does not fit easily into the socket, place it in a glass of milk or your saliva. Bring it to your dentist as soon as possible. If you get there in less than one hour, you have the best possible chance of saving your tooth.
A broken crown calls for an immediate dental visit. If you are in pain while you are waiting, try applying some clove oil to the area around the affected tooth. You can also try to gently put the crown back in place with some toothpaste or dental adhesive. Do not force the crown onto your tooth if it does not fit naturally. You should also never use any type of glue to fix a broken crown. Leave that to your dentist!
As long as the infection has not progressed too far, a warm salt water rinse can control pain from a dental abscess. However, this is a temporary measure and will not do the job for long, so be sure to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
Good emergency dental care can make a big difference during stressful times in your life. If you want an emergency dentist in Mississauga you know you can rely on, visit Trillium Smile Dentistry. Dr. Tousi is one of the best dentists in the GTA and has treated countless patients for dental injuries, advanced tooth decay, abscesses, and more. Trust us for your emergency care when you need it! Call us at 905-828-9894 or book an appointment online and get to know our team today.