What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay is the damage caused to the teeth by bacteria that produce acids and destroy the tooth. Tooth decay usually evolves into cavities which, left untreated, will lead to pain, infection and will ultimately cause tooth loss.
Tooth decay: causes and symptoms
Cavities are usually caused by high levels of bacteria in the mouth and a diet based on products that can affect the tooth, like sugar and starch. Other habits, like smoking or drinking can cause tooth decay. A balanced and healthy diet is therefore the first step towards healthy teeth.
Cavities can occur at any age and they are a common cause for tooth loss
. Cavities begin to form when the hard structure of the tooth, the enamel, is softened and destroyed by plaque and tartar which contain bacteria. The acid continues to destroy each of the three layers of the tooth, all the way into the pulp, essentially creating a hole through the tooth.
During its early stages, a cavity will cause no pain or will reveal no other symptoms. However, once the tooth becomes infected, the most common symptoms include:
- gums swelling;
- bad breath and/or bad taste in the mouth;
- spots on the teeth.
Tooth decay: prevention and treatment
Good oral care and avoiding certain foods are the two best ways to prevent tooth decay and avoid the formation of cavities. Our dentists can give you a personalized oral care plan and can offer you advice for a complete oral care: brushing, associated with flossing and using mouthwash.
The treatment for tooth decay is determined according to the severity of the problem. Based on your condition, one of our dentists will choose to restore the tooth or remove it and replace it if it can no longer be saved.
Treatments for cavities include:
- fluoride treatment: for preventing and limiting tooth decay; our dentist can apply a concentrated amount of fluoride directly on the teeth;
dental fillings and dental crowns
: the damage caused by a cavity can be repaired using a filling or a crown;
- root canal treatment
: our dentist will use this procedure to completely remove the infection if it has progressed to the pulp of the tooth;