You can and should do everything you can to stay free from cavities. At the same time, you should be aware that — statistically speaking — you probably will have tooth decay during your lifetime.
According to the National Institutes of Health, around 93 percent of people in the United States will have at least one cavity. Meanwhile, roughly 1 in 4 adults has an untreated cavity at any given time.
Are you part of the 93 percent? Are you the 1 in 4?
One way to know is by making regular dental checkups part of your oral care routine. In addition to your daily brushing and flossing, you should schedule an appointment at Relax Dental if you haven’t already done so. Call us now at (336) 841-0000 in High Point or (336) 226-4714 in Burlington, NC.
How Decay Progresses
The first stage in tooth decay is demineralization. This is the result of acids eating away at the outermost layer of your teeth. That can cause chalky white spots to form on your teeth. One way to fight demineralization is by using toothpaste with fluoride, which can remineralize your teeth.
If nothing is done, then decay can eat deeper into your enamel. At this point, you have a cavity. You might notice brown or black spots on your teeth. To repair your tooth, a dental filling is usually necessary. You can come to us for composite fillings, which can be made to match the natural color of your teeth.
If your cavity is large, then a dental crown might be a better choice to repair the tooth.
Let’s assume you still haven’t visited your dentist. The decay will eventually break down the enamel until it reaches the dentin. This is a softer layer of tissue inside your teeth. You may notice increased tooth sensitivity at this point.
Once the decay gets through the dentin, it can cause an infection of the pulp. This is the soft tissue at the innermost part of your tooth. You also have nerves and blood vessels here. This can lead to toothaches and allow your infection to spread to other parts of your body.
At this point, a root canal could be the only thing that could save your tooth. With advances in dental technology and techniques, you don’t need to fear this procedure. We can do what needs to be done with little or no pain.
When decay has done severe damage, even a root canal may not be enough to save your tooth. In that case, removing the bad tooth and replacing it is usually your best option for preserving your smile.
Focus on Prevention
Ideally, you will do what you can to avoid tooth decay entirely.
This starts at home by following the American Dental Association’s recommendations. Brush your teeth for two minutes twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride. Make sure to clean your teeth on all sides in every part of your mouth. Once per day, you should clean between your teeth and gums. You can use dental floss, flossers, or a water flosser for this task.
As we mentioned above, you also should visit your dentist as part of your oral care routine. During a professional cleaning, we will remove plaque and tartar buildup from your teeth. We also will look for any signs of decay or other problems, so you can get treatment as soon as possible.
Last, but not least, you can take added steps to reduce your risk of cavities. Dental sealants create a barrier that makes it harder for harmful bacteria to damage your teeth. Fluoride treatment can remineralize your teeth, so they are more resistant to decay.