Dental Care

Causes and complications of tooth decay

What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay, also known as caries, is one of the most common dental conditions, affecting patients of all ages. Tooth decay refers to the degradation of the tooth’s mineral content and the resulting structural damage the tooth sustains. Tooth decay usually starts with a small white spot on one of the teeth, which may or may not progress into further decay and potentially a cavity, as at this early stage the tooth decay is preventable.

What causes tooth decay?

Tooth decay has the highest prevalence in western societies. The main reason for this is the large amount of sugar some western diets contain. Simple sugars are the main nutrients of bacteria that naturally inhabit the mouth. When these simple sugars are provided for them in excess the bacteria tend to reproduce and overgrow. Bacteria produce organic acids as a side product of their sugar metabolism. This is the sour taste you might feel in your mouth if you don’t have the chance to brush your teeth for some reason. The more bacteria there are in the mouth the more acid they produce, which in return can cause the degradation of the tooth by reacting with the minerals of the tooth at a higher rate than the saliva replenishes them.

What are the complications of tooth decay?

Tooth decay can be incredibly painful when it reaches the dentin, where little channels lead to the dental nerve at the root. If bacteria affect the root and the nerve through these channels pain occurs. It is advised to turn to your dentists as early as possible at this stage the tooth decay’s issue can be solved using fillings. If the tooth decay progresses further and affects the pulp tissue in the centre of the tooth, it can result in the tooth becoming loose and eventually falling out. This is a relatively common condition as well, which can be corrected by getting dental implants at Spa Dental Sydney CBD. If tooth decays are left untreated for a longer period of time infections of the pulp tissue can occur, which might result in serious conditions such as abscesses. In certain rare cases dental infections left untreated can cause serious systemic infections, which can even be life threatening. Therefore it is important to consult your dentists as soon as possible when experiencing tooth decay, as the longer you leave it the more invasive, costly and lengthy the required dental procedure might be.

How to prevent tooth decay?

Tooth decay is a very common condition, which cannot just impose inconveniences, but severe pain and quite serious complications as well. Despite the relatively high morbidity and prevalence it has, it is very much a preventable condition. The main cause of tooth decay is poor oral hygiene and a diet containing large amounts of sugar. Therefore it is preventable by eating a healthier diet containing less sugars and more complex carbohydrates, and by maintaining excellent oral hygiene through regular brushing and flossing of teeth, usage of mouthwashes, and occasional appointments to your dental hygienists.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.