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Tooth Decay – 10 Things You Need to Know

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

Gympie Dentist | Tooth Decay | Gympie Dental Clinic
Tooth Decay can cause pain.

Tooth decay is common.

Tooth decay can be prevented or treated.

Tooth decay can happen to anyone because of many different reasons.

Ignoring decay and tooth pain is often a mistake and can cost you more in the long run!

What Is Tooth Decay?

When a tooth decays, a hole (otherwise called a cavity) forms in the tooth. This hole forms because there is a loss of mineral in the tooth, and as more and more mineral is lost, the cavity can continue into the centre of the tooth.

What causes tooth decay?

Within the dental plaque that builds upon the teeth are bacteria that use the sugar you eat as an energy source. However, when the bacteria use sugar, they form acid as a waste product. Since the bacteria reside on your teeth, the acid waste product also lies directly on the teeth, dissolving the mineral.

How does saliva help prevent tooth decay?

Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by washing sugar out of the mouth and into the stomach, preventing the bacteria from using it for energy and creating an acid. Your saliva can also repair tooth mineral and reverse the early stages of tooth decay.

However, when the acid produced by bacteria is greater than the protective nature of saliva, tooth decay can occur.

The Stages of Tooth Decay

There are four stages of tooth decay:

  1. A healthy tooth with plaque

  2. Decay in the tooth’s enamel

  3. Decay in the dentin

  4. Decay that has reaches the pulp

Can kids have tooth decay?

Tooth decay can affect individuals of all ages, even children who are very young.

This is why it is essential for children to learn proper oral hygiene, and for young and older adults to maintain this diligence.

Lead by example and brush your teeth twice a day - kids learn from what we do not from what we say!

Who Is at Risk of Tooth Decay?

Any of the following qualities can increase your risk of tooth decay:

- having crooked teeth, which are harder to clean

- having gum disease

- taking a medication that has a dry mouth as a side effect

- smokers

- previous trauma to the gums or teeth

Can tooth decay be prevented?

Incorporating the following actions can help prevent tooth decay:

- brush teeth twice a day

- floss once a day

- eat a healthy and well-balanced diet

- use toothpaste with fluoride

- stay hydrated

- avoiding sweet drinks in baby bottles or sippy cups

- increasing saliva flow by chewing on sugar-free gum

Your dentist can also apply a fissure sealant to your teeth to fill the deep grooves of the teeth, preventing tooth decay.

How do you fix tooth decay?

Besides the ability of saliva to repair the early stages of tooth decay, your dentist can also use products such as fluoride to help fix early tooth decay.

Later stages of tooth decay may require a filling after the damaged part of the tooth has been removed, and tooth decay that has reached the centre of the tooth may require a root canal.

What are the symptoms of tooth decay?

The symptoms of tooth decay include:

- a toothache

- tooth sensitivity, specifically to extreme temperatures (i.e., foods that are hot or cold)

- pain when biting

- black, brown, or white stains on the tooth’s surface

- red and swollen gums

- swelling in the face

When should I see my dentist?

If you are in pain, we recommend you book an appointment sooner rather than later. When you call to speak to our receptionists at Channon Lawrence Dental, mention that you're in pain and they will advise you on what you should do next.

Since tooth decay can often go undetected in its early stages, it is best to see a dentist regularly (every 6 to 12 months) so that they can check for tooth decay.

Between visits, if you notice any discomfort with your teeth, be sure to see a dentist; the sooner you treat tooth decay, the simpler the treatment required.

Are you worried about a decaying tooth?

If you’re worried about tooth decay, or are in pain, give us a call at 07 5482 7688 and we can discuss all your tooth decay treatment and prevention needs!

Channon Lawerence Dental is here to help you live a healthy happy life - pain free and decay free!


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