Your teeth are one of the most functional and important parts of your body. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to chew solid food or have a great looking smile.
But your teeth require regular maintenance if they are to stay healthy. If you don’t brush and floss them at least twice a day or insist on eating and drinking sugary foods and beverages, the bacteria in your mouth will cause your teeth to gradually decay and may lead to cavities, an abscess, gum disease, and plaque that could affect your heart health. What causes tooth decay and what are some signs you should not ignore?
Plaque and Decay
When the sugars and starches in food aren’t thoroughly cleaned off your teeth, bacteria feeds on them and forms plaque, a clear, sticky film that coats your teeth. If plaque remains on your teeth, it can harden under or above your gum line into tartar, which makes plaque harder to remove and creates a shield for bacteria.
The problem with plaque is that it contains acids that remove minerals in your tooth’s hard, outer enamel. Eventually, the enamel erodes, causing tiny openings or holes. This is the beginning of a cavity. As areas of enamel wear away, bacteria and acid start to reach the next layer of your teeth called dentin, which is softer than enamel and, therefore, less resistant to acid. It also has tiny tubes that directly connect to the nerve of your tooth.
As your tooth decays, the bacteria and acid find their way to the inner pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels. At that point, the pulp becomes swollen and irritated, and the nerve becomes pressed, resulting in pain. If you ignore a cavity or delay treatment, it could lead to complications such as an abscessed tooth, damaged or broken teeth, tooth loss, chewing problems, or the shifting of teeth – besides severe pain that can interfere with your daily activity.
How to detect tooth decay
Besides good brushing and flossing habits, regular visits to your dentist can help prevent cavities. That’s because you may not be aware that a cavity is forming. Nevertheless, you should always be guard for these signs of tooth decay:
· Pain or a toothache that spontaneously occurs without any apparent reason.
· General tooth sensitivity or pain when you bite down.
· A mild to sharp pain when you eat or drink something that is hot, cold or sweet.
· Black, brown or white stains on any surface of your tooth.
· Noticeable holes in your teeth.
If you suspect tooth decay, don’t wait until your next scheduled dental visit, which could be weeks or months away. See your dentist as soon as possible, especially if you experience a toothache or mouth pain.
The friendly staff at 360 Dental welcomes your call and looks forward to serving you. If you have any questions about our general or restorative dental services, please call our office today at (541) 689-1645. To schedule an appointment, you can call us or use our secure online appointment request form.