Tooth decay is one of the most common problems seen by dental health professionals every year, with many of them having to explain what tooth decay is and how it is caused. 

At Hove Dental Clinic, we are experts in every aspect of dentistry, and we know what tooth decay is, how it is caused and what can be done to treat it. We can even provide advice on what to do to prevent it from happening or returning. Call us today if you feel as though you may have a problem with one or more of your teeth, or even if you would just like a check up to ensure that your oral health is as good as it can be.

What is tooth decay?

tooth decay

Tooth decay is damage that has been done to your teeth, which comes from a buildup of bacteria in your mouth, as well as dental plaque turning the sugars present in food and drink into acids. If this plaque is allowed to remain, it will only build up further, and can lead to problems such as gum disease, dental abscesses and holes in your teeth (also known as dental caries, or cavities).

Tooth decay in children, teenagers and older people is more common than in people of working age or babies, but this does not mean that people of those ages cannot get them. This is why it is important to keep your mouth clean and healthy, no matter what age you are.

If you feel as though you may have a decaying tooth, or if you would like to learn how to take better care of your teeth, get in touch with us today. We are a team of friendly, expert dentists who want nothing but the best for our patients and their teeth, so we will do everything we can to help you improve your oral health.

Tooth decay symptoms

Signs of tooth decay may start to appear before you have any pain. However, the longer it is left and the more the decay increases, the more prominent these signs become, increasing the chance of discomfort. Common signs to look out for if you are worried you may have tooth decay include:

  • Toothache, or pains that occur without any cause
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Sharp pains when eating or drinking hot and cold foods
  • Pain when you bite down on something
  • Visible holes, dips or pits in your teeth
  • Brown, black, white or grey spots on your teeth
  • Unpleasant tastes in your mouth
  • Bad breath

If you are experiencing these symptoms, especially more than one at the same time, please get in contact with us as soon as possible. One of our highly trained team members will be able to help identify the problem, so we can suggest a solution that will help you to feel comfortable again.

Tooth decay causes

tooth decay

The most common cause of tooth decay is the buildup of dental plaque, which most often happens if a person does not brush their teeth frequently, or properly. When this plaque comes into contact with sugary foods and drinks, the bacteria converts carbohydrates from what has been consumed into energy, producing acid in the process. This acid breaks down the surface of your tooth, causing cavities. 

These cavities then allow more plaque and bacteria to reach the dentine surface (the softer, less-protected, bone-like material) below your enamel. Tooth decay’s stages will speed up after this, as dentine is not as strong as enamel. 

If you do not seek treatment for dental decay at this stage, the bacteria will be able to enter the pulp of your tooth. This is the centre of your tooth, containing nerves and blood vessels. When your nerves are exposed to the bacteria, this will usually cause pain in your mouth, and can also create abscesses in the pulp. If the infection spreads to the bone, you could also end up with another abscess there as well.

To prevent tooth decay from spreading any further if you already have it, it is vital that you seek treatment as soon as you can. Get in touch with us today and we will be able to help stop your tooth decay problems from causing you any more discomfort, as well as provide advice on what to do to keep it from coming back.

Tooth decay treatment

tooth decay

The methods for getting rid of tooth decay differ, depending on whether the damage is in an early stage or not. Early stages of tooth decay happen before cavities appear, and so can be treated by:

  • Reducing your intake of sugary foods and drinks
  • Brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day

If you choose to have one of our professional dentists take care of your teeth, they may also choose to apply a fluoride gel or paste to the affected area. We also have a number of treatments available for tooth decay which has reached a later stage, including:

  • Crowns and fillings, in which the dental decay will be removed and the hole filled or tooth covered
  • Root canals, which may be needed if the bacteria has spread to your tooth pulp
  • Removing all or part of the tooth, which may happen if it cannot be restored

If the decay has spread so far that the latter of our treatments is the only option, we can also offer partial dentures, bridges and dental implants to replace the tooth or part of the tooth that was lost. You will not have to feel worried, nervous or ashamed of having these procedures carried out ‒ we can work to make you feel comfortable, all while helping you to get back the smile that you might not have shown off when you had tooth decay.

Tooth decay prevention

tooth decay

There are a few things you can do to help prevent tooth decay from happening. These include:

  • Seeing your GP or a dentist if you have a persistently dry mouth, as this may lead to tooth decay developing
  • Brushing your teeth properly with fluoride toothpaste, twice a day
  • Cutting back on sugary foods and drinks
  • Visiting your dentist regularly for checkups

Book an appointment with us

If you think you may be experiencing symptoms related to tooth decay, or even if you would simply like to make sure you are taking the best care of your teeth that you can, book an appointment with Hove Dental Clinic today. Our experienced and fully qualified staff will be able to carry out a full check up, identifying any problems that will need treating (if there are any) and suggesting treatments when necessary. They will also be able to provide advice on how to keep your mouth healthy.

Your oral health is important to us, and we want nothing more than for our patients to be comfortable. Get in touch with us today and let us help you keep your teeth as strong and clean as they can be.