Tooth decay can be terrible, but thankfully we have the treatments to tackle it and kick it into touch for good. If you have sensitive teeth, suffer from toothache or can see a hole in the surface of your tooth, this may indicate that you have dental decay.
What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay is a very common and preventable dental disease, most commonly caused by plaque. Plaque is a film-like substance that comprises traces of food debris, saliva and bacteria. When bacteria feed, they release plaque acids that attack and erode the enamel layer and gradually penetrate the surface, causing cavities to develop. Once you have a cavity, there is a risk of bacteria spreading through the tooth, which may result in more serious infection and dental abscesses.
The most common treatment for decay is a filling. Fillings are restorations used to fill holes in the surface of the tooth. They make the tooth stronger and they also help to stem the spread of infection. The procedure to fill a tooth usually takes less than an hour and it is carried out under local anaesthetic to prevent any discomfort.
If decay is extensive and there is widespread damage to the tooth, a more robust restoration, such as a crown, inlay or onlay, may be recommended. In cases where the tooth has been severely weakened by infection, it may be necessary to carry out root canal treatment to remove the infected pulp tissue from the tooth.
How to prevent tooth decay
The good news is that it’s relatively simple to prevent dental decay. Good oral hygiene is your best bet against decay and it’s also really important to steer clear of sugary and acidic foods and drinks and to keep up to date with your dental check-ups.