what is tooth decay

If you’ve ever had a toothache, instantly, you associate that to a cavity, but did you know that there are other symptoms of tooth decay?

Understanding the different symptoms and causes will help you to catch it early and often lead to prevention. Here at Peach Valley Dental, our goal is to better equip our patients to be aware of the various tooth decay symptoms that should never be ignored.

 

What Is Tooth Decay? 

Tooth decay is often described as damaged areas, often holes or very small openings on the tooth's hard surface.  Another name for tooth decay is cavities or caries. Interesting fact: Did you know one of the world’s most common health problems is tooth decay and cavities?


What Causes Tooth Decay?

The cause of tooth decay is from a combination of factors that include:

    • Bacteria in your mouth
    • Frequent exposure to food and sugary drinks
    • Not properly cleaning your teeth

Over time the build-up of bacteria on your teeth creates a film called plaque. Plaque produces an acid that starts to break down the layer of the teeth called enamel. Once this breakdown has begun, damaged areas begin to develop, which leads to tiny openings or holes in the teeth, allowing more bacteria to enter.

Going to a dentist every six months allows the doctor to check your teeth for tiny openings or holes with their instruments. If they find anything suspicious, they test it for decay. To test for decay, the dentist checks the hole for a soft or sticky texture, which would indicate a cavity is present. Catching decay early is very important.

 

Symptoms of Tooth Decay

Between visits to the dentist, it is helpful to know other symptoms of cavities to watch for, here are five signs of tooth decay you shouldn’t ignore. 

      1. Tooth Sensitivity - noticeably tenderness when eating or drinking something sweet, hot, or cold.
      2. Changes In Tooth Color - changes in the color of your teeth can signal a cavity is present or developing. Dark spots or shadows could be a sign you have a cavity. For example, decay can look like a stain in the grooves of your tooth. These stains usually look brown or black. Even yellow and white spots can signify that your tooth is weakening in that area.
      3. Bad Breath - Having bad breath even after brushing your teeth can be an indication that you have a cavity. Though cavities don’t cause the odor, food that gets stuck in a cavity does. 
      4. Tooth Pain with Pressure - If you have sharp pain while eating or biting down, this could be a sign you have a cavity or another dental issue.
      5. Bad Taste in Your Mouth - If you notice that you keep getting a bad taste in your mouth, this could be a sign that you have a dental infection. If bacteria is close to the nerve of your tooth, it can cause an abscess. Surprisingly, an abscess can develop without any symptoms. It is essential to treat an abscess quickly to get rid of active infection.

 

symptoms of tooth decay

 

Tooth Decay Treatment

Here at Peach Valley Dental, we take tooth decay very seriously. Typically small areas of decay don’t have any symptoms, and we want to keep it that way by treating those with a small filling. A filling involves removing the area of decay and filling the hole with a tooth-colored material called composite. The filling prevents future bacteria from getting inside the tooth.

If the decay is affecting a large portion of the tooth, unfortunately, this usually can’t be filled and will likely require a dental crown to protect it. Depending on how close the decay is to the nerve of the tooth it may require a root canal. A root canal will save the tooth and oftentimes prevent future discomfort. 

 

How To Prevent Tooth Decay

The best way to prevent tooth decay is by visiting a local dentist in Atlanta, at least every six months. By visiting every six months, the dentist can monitor for symptoms of tooth decay and monitor your overall oral health. They can also provide you with great dental care tips and things to avoid in your diet if you are cavity prone. 

To better assist you in preventing tooth decay, please give us a call at 404-254-5196 to schedule an appointment or conveniently request an appointment online.

Kelle Dennis, D.D.S
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