How to Spot the Signs of Tooth Decay

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Tooth decay is a very common problem. Most people would have experienced cavities as a child. You might remember going to the dentist to get them filled, it can be a problem at any age. There are steps you can take to avoid tooth decay. This includes limiting sugar food and drink, as well as regular visits to the dentist. 

At Boon Dental we want your teeth to stay healthy and happy. In this article, we will discuss tooth decay and how to spot the signs. 

What is Tooth decay?

Tooth decay occurs when you damage the hard surface of your teeth. Over time, if left untreated, this will turn into tiny holes called cavities. There are 5 stages to tooth decay which we will discuss in more detail later. 

Tooth decay is a common problem that occurs as a result of oral health neglect. A high sugary diet can be a risk factor in developing cavities. As well as bacteria in your mouth, which is why regular and thorough tooth brushing is vital. If tooth decay is left untreated it can turn into a very serious problem. It may start as tooth pain, leading to infection and possible tooth loss. 

Causes of Tooth Decay

It is important to limit your intake of sugary food and drinks. This is not only good for your general health but also your teeth. Tooth decay often occurs as a result of people consuming a lot of sugar. It is especially bad if you do not clean your teeth regularly. Regular cleaning means brushing twice a day, flossing once a day and possibly using a mouthwash too. Without these habits, your teeth may be at risk of decay. 

Another cause of tooth decay is over-snacking. Eating a lot in between meals feeds the bacteria in your mouth even more sugar which it converts into acid. These acids slowly eat away at the tooth enamel which leads to decay and cavities. 

Not having enough fluoride in your diet can also cause tooth decay. A good way to make sure you have enough fluoride is to drink tap water, which contains the minerals we need. Your toothpaste should be fluoride-based. Fluoride helps to strengthen and protect your teeth. 

Lastly, it is so important to visit your dentist regularly. Often people go years in between dental check-ups which means oral health suffers. Your dentist can see things in your mouth that you simply cannot. They will spot problems from the start and stop them before becoming major issues. It could save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

The 5 Stages of Tooth Decay

There are 5 main stages of tooth decay which are;

Enamel lesion

The outer layer of your teeth is called enamel. Enamel is a very strong substance made up of different minerals. The acid, caused by bacteria, will start eating away at this enamel if you don’t brush regularly. If this occurs, you may notice small white spots forming. This is the first sign of tooth decay.

Enamel Decay

If you don’t catch tooth decay at the first stage, your enamel will continue to deteriorate. This will cause cavities. This means the decay is no longer superficial and will require a dentist to fill it.

Dentine Decay

Dentine lies under the enamel. It is much softer than enamel and more susceptible to damage. If the decay reaches this stage, you may start experiencing sensitivity and pain. This will be especially noticeable when drinking hot or cold drinks.

Pulp Damage

The pulp sits at the centre of your teeth. It contains nerves and blood vessels and is vital in your oral health. If the pulp is damaged you may experience severe pain, as well as swelling and pressure.

Abscess Formation

Once the tooth decay has spread to the pulp an abscess may form. An abscess is a collection of pus that forms at the base of the tooth. It can cause extreme pain, which can be felt in your face and jaw. It is extremely important to treat this stage. If left untreated it could lead to infection in the bone and tooth loss.

The Signs of Tooth Decay

As you can see tooth decay can quickly turn into a very serious issue. This is why it is so important to stay diligent and on top of your oral care. So how do you spot the signs of tooth decay?

  • White or brown spots on the teeth
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold drinks
  • Sensitivity to sweets
  • A toothache
  • Pain when eating
  • Discolouration on the teeth
  • A visible hole in your teeth

Wrapping Up

Tooth decay is a common issue that is easily treated in its initial stages. It is important to look after your teeth to prevent this decay from occurring. There are many things you can do at home to take care of your teeth. It is also essential to book regular check-ups with your dentist. Contact us at Boon Dental to book your check-up today. We are happy to discuss your oral health needs.