decay is a gradual but avoidable process when teeth are dissolved
away by acid produced in the mouth by bacteria. Everyone’s
teeth are covered in plaque which is made up of millions
of bacteria. When sugary foods are eaten, or sugary drinks
taken, the bacteria feed on the sugar and release acid, which
dissolves the teeth.
Decay can be prevented by establishing good
dietary habits and cutting down on sugar intake
good mouth care including regular tooth brushing
a fluoride based toothpaste and the use of aids to clean between
teeth – like
Your dentist should check for decay at every check-up by careful visual examination
and gentle probing of the teeth and it is recommended that x-rays are taken
at regular intervals to look for early decay between the teeth. If very
early signs of dental decay are present then your dentist can spot these
you how to avoid a filling being necessary.
However if your dentist detects decay at a later stage then it can be treated
by a small simple filling which can be tooth coloured. Often early decay
is not at all painful and so your dentist can detect it before you are
aware of symptoms.
Unfortunately if decay is left to progress for too long
then it begins to cause symptoms of pain as the cavity
and the progess of tooth destruction proceeds towards
the nerve in the tooth. If it is detected before reaching
nerve then the larger cavity can usually be filled but
sometimes a crown will be required.
If the decay reaches the nerve of the tooth then the nerve is likely to become
infected and, apart from possibly being very painful, an abscess will form.
At this stage the tooth will require root canal treatment. If you regularly
see your dentist then decay should almost always be detected before it reaches
the nerve of the tooth and so the need for costly and lengthy root canal treatment
should be avoided.
Everyone is potentially affected by tooth decay and some
people are more at risk that others. You can prevent problems
with decay by looking after your teeth, being careful about
how much sugar you eat and drink and visiting your dentist
for regular check ups.