When we were younger, and even up until now, the dentist told us to always brush our teeth twice a day, as our oral hygiene is important for a healthy smile, but our overall health as well. Even after trying our best to prevent cavities or tooth decay, sometimes the dentist finds a little cavity or two at a cleaning or check-up. Tooth decay is not always visible to the naked eye, but when it is, even if you feel no pain, procrastinating on getting treatment from your dentist can come with a price.
What is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is a disease, but often an unnoticeable one. Before we brush, and even after, a sticky bacteria substance called plaque forms on your teeth. As we eat and drink, the sugars from these substances create acid. This acid, causes the white hard enamel covering on the teeth to slowly soften and dissolve. In other words, every time you eat something, especially sugar, the bacteria living on your teeth are being fed, which produces a strong acid that eats away at your teeth. If you don’t remove this sticky plaque by brushing and flossing, and it is continuously left untreated, it will work through all the layers of the tooth and its structure, until a hole appears (cavity). This is called tooth decay.
Tooth decay’s hidden symptoms of pain and sensitivity will not be apparent until it goes through the dentin layer of the tooth. The dentin layer is made up of tiny nerve endings, that become activated, and often tell you that they are irritated when you eat or drink something cold, hot, or sweet. For example, when biting into an apple, you feel that piercing cold sensation go through your tooth.
Decay spreads more quickly through the dentin layer, because it is softer than your enamel. As tooth decay continues to be left untreated, your pain may be more frequent and intense. When the tooth decay reaches the dentin layer, it has to be treated.
Treat Tooth Decay with Fillings
A small cavity due to tooth decay can be treated with a filling. Fillings are used to fix a damaged tooth due to decay, with the hopes of restoring it back to its normal function and shape. When a dentist gives you a filling, they remove the decay, clean the area, and then “fill” the cleaned-out cavity with a filling, made out of various materials such as porcelain, gold, silver (amalgam), and composite resin, which are popular as they are the same color as your tooth.
Tooth decay doesn’t repair itself, and what starts out as a minor problem can quickly become serious, changing your treatment options dramatically. Therefore, the earlier you bring a problem up to your dentist, the better chance it has of being treated, without any other major complications, such as the decay reaching the nerve. If this occurs, the nerve in the pulp of the damaged tooth’s root needs to be removed by performing a root canal.
If you have tooth decay, do not wait! Talk to your dentist immediately, to receive appropriate treatment. Call Hagerman Dental Care at (651) 646-2392, or use our online form to request an appointment.