Tooth Decay Chronicles: Everything You Must Know

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Tooth decay or dental caries is the most prevalent oral problem globally. It can affect any age group, gender, or ethnicity. It destroys the surface of a tooth, and when left untreated, it can spread to deeper tissues, causing cavities.  

Several treatments for tooth decay are provided by the dentist in the Newtonbrook West area of North York, depending on the severity of the infection. Read on to explore tooth decay, stages, symptoms, and treatment options.

What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, is the tooth surface’s destruction due to the enamel layer’s breakdown. Increased bacterial accumulation leads to the formation of plaque (soft sticky film covering the tooth surface) that produces harmful acids, toxins, and by-products. These toxins demineralize the hard layer of the tooth, forming tiny holes, pits, or cavities. If left untreated, tooth decay can cause pain, swelling, pulpal infection, and tooth loss.

What are the stages of tooth decay?

There are five stages of tooth decay, namely:

  • Stage 1: Initial demineralization
  • Stage 2:  Enamel decay
  • Stage 3: Dentin decay
  • Stage 4: Pulp damage
  • Stage 5: Abscess 

What are the symptoms of tooth decay?

Symptoms of tooth decay vary depending on the severity of the damage caused. Initial tooth decay exhibits no symptoms except surface discoloration and cavity. However, advanced tooth decay includes the following symptoms:

  • Constant tooth pain
  • Increased tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, and sugary foods
  • White or dark spots on the teeth 
  • Bad breath
  • Deep cavity
  • Difficulty chewing 
  • Halitosis (bad breath) 
  • Increased gingival swelling, redness, and bleeding.

How is tooth decay treated?

Treatment options include:

  • Fluoride Treatment

      • This treatment option helps treat mild tooth decay, such as pits and fissures. 
      • Fluoride helps in the remineralization of the enamel, which can halt tooth decay and prevent further damage. 
  • Dental Fillings

      • If you have a typical tooth cavity, a dental filling is an ideal option. 
      • The dentist will remove the decayed tissues and restore the tooth by using an appropriate filling material or cement.
  • Root Canal Therapy

      • Tooth decay that extends deeper into the pulp requires extensive procedures like root canal therapy.
      • The decayed tissue and the entire pulp is removed and replaced with a biocompatible material like gutta-percha. 
  • Tooth extraction 
    • Tooth decay beyond repair is mostly extracted and replaced with suitable dentures, bridges, or dental implants.

Takeaway 

Tooth decay is a widespread condition. It can vary in intensity with five different stages as the infection spreads to the deeper layers. Knowing the symptoms is essential to seek dental care for optimal treatment and oral rehabilitation.