How Does Tooth Decay Happen?
Tooth decay is among the most common oral health problems. While minor cavities may heal on their own and most others can be restored through dental care, advanced decay can cause serious infections and even systemic health problems. Fortunately, a variety of treatment options are available to address tooth decay. Here is a look at how tooth decay occurs.
Oral bacteria are the primary culprits behind tooth decay. These bacteria are naturally present in the mouth and usually cause no problems, but they do produce acids when they are exposed to sugars, which they consume. As sugar and bacteria build up on teeth as a part of plaque, the minerals that make up the enamel begin to break down from consistent exposure to acids. This is especially common in crevices near the gum line and between teeth.
Certain factors can predispose teeth to decay. For example, regular exposure to acidic foods and drinks can increase the decay by causing mild erosion. Teeth that are broken by trauma or ground down from bruxism are also more likely to develop decay.
Daily brushing and flossing combined with regular checkups are key factors in preventing tooth decay. When cavities do develop, a variety of treatments can be recommended as solutions. For mild decay, mercury amalgam fillings or tooth colored restorations may be sufficient. Larger cavities may require inlays or onlays, while decay that has reached the tooth pulp may necessitate root canal treatment or even extraction. Patients can schedule a consultation with our dentist to learn more about tooth decay causes and solutions.
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