What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay results in cavities (holes) in our teeth. It is an infectious disease and is also one of the most common health disorders in the world. The good news is that it can be prevented and if detected early, it can be treated and controlled.
How does tooth decay happen?
The main culprits are bacteria and food.
Our mouths contain a variety of bacteria, some are good, while some are bad for our oral health. Dental plaque, a sticky film of bacteria constantly forms on the surfaces of our teeth. The bacteria digest carbohydrates (sugars and starches) left over in our mouth from food and drinks (such as bread, milk, fruits, rice, cakes), and in the process, produce acids which eat away and remove minerals from our teeth. The acids continuously attack our teeth and create cavities (holes in our teeth)
A few things that may increase your risk of tooth decay:
- Dry mouth
- Frequent intake of sugary or acidic food or drink
- Orthodontic (braces) treatment
How do I tell if I have tooth decay?
Usually, you will not experience any discomfort or pain when tooth decay first develops. Most people do not know that they have early tooth decay, until the decay worsens to a more advanced stage.
Some common signs and symptoms of advanced tooth decay
- Discoloured spot on tooth
- Pits or holes in tooth
- Tooth is sensitive when eating hot/cold foods
5 Ways to prevent tooth decay:
- Brushing regularly, properly and with the right toothbrush
- Clean between the teeth with floss or interdental toothbrush
- Reduce sugary or acidic food and drink.
- Drink more water
- Visit the dentist regularly for a thorough check-up and cleaning
What can be done if I have tooth decay?
The type of treatment you require will depend on the state of the tooth decay.
If tooth decay is detected early before cavity forms in the tooth, the tooth decay process can be stopped and treated with professionally applied varnish. However, if the cavity has formed in the tooth, the tooth will need to be repaired with filling materials. There are several ways to repair the tooth and it depends on the extent of the cavity. After examining your tooth, your dentist will suggest to you the best way to treat the tooth.