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5 Dangers of Tooth Decay – General Dentistry Information
When patients step into our general dentistry office, one of the main complaints is a toothache. Toothaches can be due to many reasons, but for the most part they happen in response to tooth decay. Tooth decay can be painful, and when left unchecked, it can get ugly. Read on to discover the five dangers of tooth decay and how to prevent them.
Tooth decay information
Here's what to know about tooth decay and oral health.
Bacteria in the mouth feed off of carbohydrates. While we eat, these starches and sugars enter the mouth and tend to stick around until brushing removes them. In this period between eating and brushing, bacteria works quickly to digest these food particles and produce acid as a waste product. The acid then eats away at tooth enamel, making tiny holes in the outermost layer of the tooth. These holes reach the inside of the tooth where the nerve lives, causing sensitivity and tooth destruction.
Signs of a cavity include toothache, sensitivity to hot and cold beverages and a visible hole in the surface of the tooth. If you suspect a cavity, you should visit your local general dentistry office as soon as possible so the problem does not have a chance to worsen. A dental cleaning every six months can help to prevent cavities before they form, but once they show up, there is no home remedy that can get them to go away. Getting the cavity filled is the next step.
Tooth decay does not just affect the teeth. Tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease go hand in hand. Both are caused by plaque buildup, and both can result in tooth loss. The gums are the first defense against the constant debris that comes in contact with teeth every day. Crunchy food, hot beverages and harmful bacteria threaten teeth on a daily basis. Gums protect the roots, the part of the tooth that is not covered by enamel and is more susceptible to damage.
When periodontal disease is allowed to advance, the gums begin to recede. This exposes tooth roots and can cause gaps and the appearance of long teeth, not to mention tooth decay in sensitive regions. A dental cleaning at a general dentistry office and some prescribed medication should clear any infection right up.
A tooth that is experiencing severe decay may start to loosen. This is due in part to the inflammation of the gums (periodontal disease) and the possible infection of the inside of the tooth. Loose teeth lead to lost teeth, and this is an expensive problem to fix. Once a tooth begins to loosen, the teeth around it start to shift into its place. This causes bite problems and more tooth decay.
Destruction of pulp
If left untreated, cavities may lead to infection of the pulp: tissue and nerves inside the tooth. At this point, the tooth will need root canal treatment to save it and avoid extraction. A dying tooth might not have any pain at all, though many patients who need root canal therapy complain of a toothache.
Abscess formation in the jaw underneath the affected tooth usually means the decay has gone too far to save the tooth. This is the most painful stage of tooth decay. Once the infection reaches the root tip of the tooth, the bones are at a high risk of infection as well. The gums, tongue and gum tissue may swell, causing speech issues. Oral surgery is absolutely necessary at this point.
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