Facts about tooth decay

Facts about Tooth Decay


Have you ever had dental pain? Im sure you will agree that it can be very painful indeed. It has been said that the only pain greater than dental pain is that of a heart attack. So why do we get toothache and how can you prevent it from happening to you.


Most dental pain is due to a cavity i.e having a hole in your tooth caused by tooth decay. Tooth decay is very dependent on what we consume which is why some people have very little decay and some people have large holes in their teeth. Bacteria which is naturally present in our mouths breakdown dietary sugar to release acid which is responsible for causing a small hole or cavity. This progressively gets worse as we consume more sugary foods and drinks as it supplies a constant source of substrate to the bacteria. 


When the hole is small to medium size you may get pain when eating certain foodstuffs such as cold drinks, hot drinks or sweet things such as chocolate. The pain usually lasts for a few seconds to a minute and subsides. Usually at this stage if the cavity is filled this will clean the decay and prevent further progression.


If the cavity is not treated the pain may last for more than a few minutes or become constant this indicates that the hole is big and has caused irreversible damage to the pulp or the nerve endings inside the tooth. Now you either need root canal treatment which involves removing the nerve from inside the tooth or you can have the tooth extracted. 


Tooth decay can be prevented by taking some simple measures. We know tooth decay is caused mainly by sugary foods so the first thing is to cut down on foods like chocolate, fizzy pop and sweets. We also know that the frequency of consumption plays a big role in tooth decay so it is important to keep the number of times you have sugary foods to a minimum. Having a bar of chocolate/sugary drink in one go is better than making it last all day as it is a constant source of substrate for bacteria. 


Also regular visits to your dentist i.e at least two visits per year will allow your dentist to pick up signs of tooth decay and advise you appropriately. Your dentist will also take regular xrays which can detect tooth decay on surfaces that are not directly visible. Sometimes you may not know that you have a large hole until it is picked up on an xray. You may not have had any pain from this tooth but usually in time you will but it may be too late by then.

If you think you are suffering from tooth decay call us today!