Tooth decay or cavities are caused by a combination of bacteria, food and plaque acids. Naturally there are bacteria present in our mouths. These bacteria change the foods that we eat, especially sugars and starches, into acids. The acids combine with plaque, the sticky substance that adheres to our teeth, and cause damage to the outer enamel covering. Continuous damage creates holes in your teeth, which are called cavities.
The treatment of cavities depends on its severity. If tooth decay is caught early, before a hole has formed, it may be possible to stop the progression by brushing, flossing and using fluoride-containing products.
If the decay has advanced to the point of breaking through the enamel it will likely require one or more of the following treatments:
- A filling, if a hole has formed in the tooth.
- A crown, if the decay is extensive and the tooth is broken down.
- A root canal, if the pulp or inside nerve of the tooth becomes infected.
- Removal of the root, if the tooth is damaged or if the crown portion of the tooth is severely damaged to the point that it can no longer be repaired.
See your dentist regularly
Early tooth decay is usually painless. That’s why it is important to see a dentist regularly for exams and x-rays. Early diagnosis gives you the best possibility of halting the decay process or keeping the required treatments to a minimum.