Tooth Decay

What is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is caused by loss of minerals like calcium and phosphate from the tooth surface which weakens the tooth’s defence against the acids produced by bacteria. This is called demineralisation. Cavities are produced by prolonged demineralisation.

How can I prevent tooth decay?

  • By brushing your teeth twice a day, first thing in the morning and last thing at night, this removes any bacteria and plaque on the tooth surfaces.
  • Use interdental brushes to clean in between your teeth
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste containing the appropriate level of fluoride, twice a day
  • Spit out excess toothpaste rather than rinse out with water
  • An electric toothbrush is better than a manual brush
  • Check your diet and reduce any sugar intake – especially in between meals
  • If you suffer from a dry mouth mention this to your dentist as they may be able to help

What is fluoride?

Fluoride works in several ways by helping prevent destruction of the tooth surface caused by acids produced by bacteria. It forms a reservoir on the teeth from which fluoride has been released after an acid attack and reduces the loss of minerals from the tooth and promotes repair of early tooth decay.

Fluoride needs to be used daily to prevent tooth decay, for most, using the appropriate levels of fluoride in their toothpaste with be adequate in preventing tooth decay. Studies have shown that brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste reduces the risk of tooth decay much more than brushing only once a day.

How do you Treat Tooth Decay?

If left untreated, tooth decay will continue to spread throughout the tooth. If only enamel and dentine is affected your dentist will be able to remove it and then place a filling to restore your tooth. If the nerve is affected it may be possible for it to be dressed and then a filling placed on top or you may require root canal treatment.

How can I tell if I have Tooth Decay?

The best way to know if you have tooth decay is to visit your dentist regularly for check ups as they will be able to take x-rays of your teeth which shows decay that is not visible to the eye.

Early decay can look like a white spot on the enamel of your tooth, as it advances you may see or feel a hole.

What Symptoms may I experience?

You may find your tooth becomes sensitive to hot, cold or sweet. You may experience a lingering pain after having something hot cold or sweet to eat, it may be excruciating pain accompanied with an abscess.

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