Tooth decay is one of the most common oral health problems worldwide. Every time you eat, the sugars in the food you consume feed the bacteria that live in your mouth. When these bacteria eat these sugars, they secrete acid that damages your teeth and promotes decay.
Regular brushing and flossing help keep these bacteria at bay, but these habits may not be enough to fully prevent decay. To do this, you will need to better understand the mechanisms behind tooth decay. The following facts will help you get started.
Tooth stains are a common problem and are usually harmless. However, some stains are actually signs of decay. Advanced decay can look like yellow, brown, or black spots on the teeth. Stains that appear in the pits and fissures of your teeth are particularly likely to be decay. You should also be on the lookout for patches of white that were not present before, as these may be early indicators of enamel breakdown.
Your saliva is your body’s best defence against tooth decay. Not only does it help to regulate the pH levels in your mouth, but the calcium and phosphate it contains can also help rebuild damaged enamel. You can take advantage of these natural mechanisms by stimulating your salivary glands with sugarless gum.
You know that certain foods are more likely to cause tooth decay. However, many people do not realize that food timing and frequency matter just as much as food choices when it comes to preventing decay. The more frequently you eat during the day, the harder it is for your saliva to keep up with the acid the bacteria in your mouth will produce. Similarly, eating before bed without brushing your teeth afterwards allows bacteria to feast on the leftover food particles all night, swiftly accelerating decay.
Dental plaque that is not cleaned off your teeth can seep into your gums and cause gum disease. If this condition goes untreated, it will eventually develop into periodontitis and spread into your jawbone as well. Your bone will then begin to break down. As more and more of your bone wears away, your teeth may start to wiggle, shift, and even fall out.
Tooth decay is usually treated with dental fillings, but this is not the only way to treat this problem. Highly advanced decay might require a dental crown, a root canal, or even an extraction. When these treatments are called for, you may need additional work done to restore your smile. Cosmetic options like bridges can be used to replace a missing tooth. Front teeth veneers can also disguise some of the aesthetic problems created by decay.
Children’s tooth enamel is very thin compared to that of adults, so decay can break through it more quickly. Teenagers usually have all their permanent teeth in place, but they also tend to consume lots of sugary drinks and snacks that contribute to decay. Both children and teens also tend to have poor oral hygiene compared to adults.
Many people think that they do not need to worry about tooth decay unless they are experiencing pain. This is a common misconception. In reality, it’s usually only advanced decay that results in pain. This is because, by that point, the decay may be getting close to the tooth’s nerve. Teeth in this condition cannot always be saved, and when they can, it usually takes a root canal to do so. Visiting your dentist regularly allows them to catch developing decay before it becomes severe, giving you a much better chance of keeping your teeth intact.
While very early decay can sometimes be reversed, cavities are rarely discovered at this early stage. By the time they can be detected, they require treatment. Delaying that treatment only gives the decay a chance to grow and destroy more of your tooth structure. If your dentist identifies a cavity at one of your routine dental visits, it is important to get it filled as soon as possible.
Tooth decay is a fact of life for most people, but you can manage it easily with the right dental team on your side. Whether you need a few dental fillings or are interested in veneers to disguise damage from decay, the team at Trillium Smile Dentistry can help. Contact us at 905-828-9894 or book an appointment online to get professional help for your tooth decay today.
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.
Dental crowns, sometimes also called caps, are small, tooth-shaped covers that are placed over a natural tooth. These prosthetics extend to the gum line, covering the affected tooth from top to bottom.
A well-made crown looks just like a natural tooth and allows you to chew food the same way you would with your original dentition. This makes crowns an excellent solution for both aesthetic and functional oral issues. You can learn more about this time-tested dental care option in the guide below.
Sooner or later, nearly every adult will need to visit their dentist for a dental filling. 96% of Canadian adults have some history of cavities, and most develop more than one in their lifetime.
Dentists typically use one of two options to fill in the spots where a cavity has damaged a tooth: silver or white fillings. This guide will help you learn about each type and give you the information you need to choose the right filling for your dental needs.
Dental caries, commonly known as tooth decay, are the cause of one of the most common dental problems – cavities.
Dental caries originate from several strains of mutans streptococci bacteria. When these bacteria consume sugars from the food you eat, they secrete acid that breaks down your tooth’s protective enamel structures. Your saliva naturally repairs some of this damage, but if too much harm is done before your saliva can counteract the problem, a cavity begins to form.
If you believe that you have a cavity, please call our office at 647-371-1894 to book an appointment. Our team will be able to examine the area of concern and recommend appropriate treatment. If caught early, some cavities can be repaired without the need for anesthetic, so be sure to visit as soon as possible!