What is Tooth Decay?

Dentist looking for tooth decay at T-Town Smiles in Tulsa OKIn its simplest terms, tooth decay is damage that is caused to your tooth enamel. It occurs when acids erode your enamel, causing mineral loss. If decay is not treated, it can turn into a cavity. At T-Town Smiles, we are here to help you better understand tooth decay and what you can do to prevent it or stop it from getting worse.

How Does Tooth Decay Happen?

Plaque and bacteria are natural substances that occur in your mouth. Just because they are natural, though, this does not mean that they are good. Plaque is a naturally acidic substance, and bacteria produce acids. These acids leech minerals from your teeth. If more minerals are being leeched than you are replacing, this leads to weak spots in the teeth. These weak spots are areas of decay.

What are the Stages of Tooth Decay?

There are several stages to tooth decay as it advances and turns into a cavity. The first stage is white spots on your teeth. These spots are areas of calcium loss and plaque accumulation. The next step is enamel decay. At this point, the enamel begins to break down. The third stage is dentin decay. As the enamel breaks down, the decay reaches the dentin layer of your teeth. It is at this point that a cavity can begin to form.

By the fourth stage of decay, the pulp of the tooth becomes involved. When decay reaches the pulp, an infection can occur. Should this happen, a root canal becomes necessary. The last stage of decay is the development of an abscess. This is when the infection reaches the root of the tooth and bacteria begin to move out into the bone. If an abscess forms, more than your oral health is risked. If you do not have the decay treated by this point, the tooth may need to be extracted.

Can it be Reversed?

The early stages of tooth decay, before the enamel begins to break down, can be reversed. There are several ways you can do this. Professional treatment, such as a fluoride treatment, can help to restore fluoride, which helps to strengthen the enamel. Improving your brushing, and adding a fluoridated toothpaste, can help. You can also help to reverse decay by improving your diet and watching what you eat.

How Do I Prevent Tooth Decay in the First Place?

While the early stages of tooth decay can be reversed, you can also help to prevent it from happening in the first place. First, you should brush your teeth twice a day, using a fluoridated toothpaste. Floss once a day. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, watching your sugar and carbohydrate intake. Drink plenty of water. You should also schedule, and keep routine dental appointments. Cleanings and exams are essential for the prevention of decay and cavities. With these visits, we can also spot the warning signs of tooth decay and cavities so that we can help you to take the necessary steps to stop it in its tracks before it has the chance to do some serious damage.

For more information about tooth decay and what you can do about it, contact T-Town Smiles at 918-488-9770 today.