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Tooth Decay (Cavities): Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Tooth Decay (Cavities): Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Hello everyone! You’re probably wondering about tooth decay. You may even be experiencing it yourself and are looking for some answers. It’s something everyones certainly heard about but you can definitely be forgiven for not understanding it. So how about we dive in and get a deep look at what exactly tooth decay is.

Symptoms of Tooth Decay

First off, how do you know you might have a cavity? Here are some of the clear signs:

  1. Toothache: A spontaneous pain or ache that doesn’t seem to go away.
  2. Sensitivity: An increased sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks.
  3. Visible Holes: Sometimes, you might see visible pits or holes in your teeth.
  4. Staining: Dark stains on the surface of the tooth, which can be black, brown, or white in appearance.

What Does a Cavity Look and Feel Like?

Recognising a cavity in its early stage can be a bit tricky, as it doesn’t always make its presence felt immediately. Visually, cavities can appear as small holes or pits in your teeth. Sometimes, these damaged areas might show up as stains, which can range in colour from black or brown to even white. On the feeling front, one of the earliest signs is heightened sensitivity. Suddenly, that sip of a cold drink or a bite of a hot pizza slice might cause discomfort. As the cavity advances, a persistent toothache can develop, sometimes offering sharp jabs of pain without any apparent triggers.

What Does a Cavity Look and Feel Like?

Causes of Tooth Decay

Understanding the cause can often help in prevention. Here’s what usually leads to cavities:

  1. Bacteria & Plaque Formation: Our mouths are home to countless bacteria. Some of these bacteria can produce acids from the sugars and starches we eat. This acid, in turn, can erode the enamel, leading to cavities.
  2. Poor Oral Hygiene: Regularly skipping brushing and flossing can lead to plaque build-up, which in turn can cause tooth decay.
  3. Frequent Consumption of Sugary Foods and Drinks: They provide ample food for the bacteria in our mouths, leading to more acid production.
  4. Lack of Fluoride: Fluoride helps in preventing cavities. A lack of fluoride in your toothpaste or water source can increase the risk of cavities.

Treatment Options

Thankfully, tooth decay is treatable. Depending on the severity, here are some common treatments:

  1. Fillings: The decayed material is removed, and the cavity is filled with a variety of materials like silver, composite resin, or gold.
  2. Crowns: For severely decayed teeth, a custom-fit cap replaces the natural crown of the tooth after removing the decayed portion.
  3. Root Canals: If the decay has reached the inner pulp (nerve) of the tooth, a root canal may be necessary.
  4. Tooth Extractions: In cases where the tooth is severely decayed and cannot be saved, it might need to be removed.

How to Avoid Tooth Decay

Avoiding tooth decay is a blend of good practices and being mindful of what we consume. Regularly brushing with fluoride toothpaste, especially before hitting the bed, ensures that the harmful bacteria don’t get a chance to thrive. It’s also vital that you floss as it helps to get rid of anything that your toothbrush could miss. You need to make sure that you’re also cutting down on sugary foods and drinks because they can create an environment that’s conducive to the thriving of harmful bacteria in your mouth. Lastly, something that people often miss is attending their, regular dental check-ups. These visits are essential because they allow professionals to identify early signs of decay or other issues before they become more severe. 

How to Avoid Tooth Decay

Why It’s Important to Get Tooth Decay Treated

It’s tempting to ignore a minor toothache or sensitivity, thinking it might go away on its own. However, untreated tooth decay can snowball into larger issues. The constant pain and discomfort are just the tip of the iceberg. If left unchecked, the decay can grow, possibly leading to infections, abscesses, or even gum disease. And in the worst scenarios, tooth loss becomes a grim reality. Besides the physical implications, there’s also a financial angle. Addressing tooth decay in its early stages might require simpler treatments. But delaying it only adds to the complexity of the needed interventions, often increasing the treatment cost.

How Long Does It Take to Treat?

The duration of the treatment largely hinges on the nature and severity of the tooth decay. Fillings, for instance, are typically straightforward and can be completed in a single appointment. If you’re getting a crown, you might need to pencil in two visits – the first one for tooth preparation and impression-taking, and a follow-up for fitting the tailor-made crown. Root canals vary, but on average, they might require anywhere from one to three appointments. Tooth extractions are usually wrapped up in one session, but if it’s a surgical extraction, a subsequent visit might be in order.

Prevention is Better than Cure

I can’t emphasise this enough. Regular dental check-ups, brushing and flossing twice daily, using fluoride toothpaste, and limiting sugary snacks can go a long way in preventing cavities. Remember, the care you take today will reward you with a healthy smile for years to come.

Tooth Decay (Cavities): Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

In Conclusion

Your oral health should never be taken lightly. From children to adults, everyone deserves a bright, healthy smile. At Aurora Epping Dental, we’ve been the trusted family dentist in Wollert, putting smiles back on the faces of our community for years. We know the trepidation a dental visit can invoke, but rest assured, our 100% dedication to your care ensures that you’re in the safest hands.

Why choose anyone else when you have the #1 dentist in Epping? From teeth whitening to veneers, to dental implants to crowns – we know how to bring your smile back to its radiant best. Plus, we’re proud supporters of the Child Dental Benefits Schedule through Medicare, ensuring that the little ones in your family get the care they deserve.

Have more questions or feel it’s time for a check-up? Give us a ring at (03) 9999 1203 or book an appointment through our website. Because at Aurora Epping Dental, when you smile, we all smile. Personalised dental care is just a call away!