Tooth Decay: How to know and treat

Tooth decay is a crucial aspect of maintaining optimal dental health, addressing the progression of cavities and decay within the teeth. If you suspect that you or your kid may have dental decay, make an appointment with a dentist right once. Take tooth decay treatment early can help prevent it from getting worse. In this blog, we will get to know what is it and how can do for tooth decay treatment.

tooth decay
Figure 1. Tooth decay treatment for patients

1. What Is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay, commonly known as cavities or dental caries, is a dental condition characterized by the gradual breakdown or destruction of the tooth structure. It occurs due to a combination of factors involving plaque buildup, bacteria, and dietary habits.

When bacteria in the mouth interact with sugars or carbohydrates from food, they produce acids that attack the enamel—the protective outer layer of the teeth. Over time, these acids weaken the enamel, leading to the formation of cavities or holes in the teeth.

tooth decay
Figure 2. What Is Tooth Decay? Sydney Dental Vietnam

If left untreated, tooth decay can progress deeper into the tooth, affecting the dentin and pulp. This progression may cause increased tooth sensitivity, pain, and potentially lead to infections or abscesses.

Prevention through good oral hygiene practices, regular dental check-ups, and a balanced diet can help prevent tooth decay. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and limiting sugary foods and beverages are essential in maintaining optimal oral health and preventing tooth decay.

tooth decay
Figure 3. How does tooth decay look like?

2. What Causes Tooth Decay?

Bacteria abound in our mouths. Some bacteria are beneficial. However, some, like those that cause tooth decay, might be harmful. These bacteria interact with food to generate plaque, a soft, sticky coating.

Plaque bacteria produce acids from the sugar and carbohydrates in your food and drink. The acids begin to dissolve the minerals in your enamel. Tartar may eventually form on the plaque. Plaque and tartar, in addition to harming your teeth, may also damage your gums and cause gum disease.

tooth decay
Figure 4. What Causes Tooth Decay? Sydney Dental Vietnam.

Tooth decay, or dental caries, is primarily caused by a combination of factors, including:

  1. Plaque Formation: Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms on teeth. When sugars or carbohydrates from food interact with these bacteria, they produce acids that attack the tooth enamel.
  2. Poor Oral Hygiene: Inadequate brushing, flossing, or improper oral care routines can lead to plaque buildup, which, if not removed, can contribute to tooth decay.
  3. Dietary Habits: Frequent consumption of sugary or starchy foods and beverages increases the production of acids by oral bacteria, accelerating enamel erosion.
  4. Dry Mouth: Reduced saliva production can result in a dry mouth, decreasing the mouth’s ability to neutralize acids and wash away food particles, leading to a higher risk of tooth decay.
  5. Acidic Foods and Drinks: Highly acidic foods and beverages can erode tooth enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay over time.
  6. Poorly Formed Teeth: Deep grooves or pits in the teeth can make them more prone to plaque accumulation and decay.
  7. Bacteria: Specific types of bacteria in the mouth are more aggressive in producing acids that contribute to decay.

3. Stages of Tooth Decay.

Tooth deterioration is facilitated in part by dental plaque. The sticky, white film that coats the surfaces of your teeth is called plaque. Saliva, food particles, and microbes make up its composition.

If you don’t get your teeth cleaned on a regular basis, plaque can accumulate. Over time, it may also solidify and become tartar. Germs can be further protected by tartar, which makes their elimination more difficult.

There are, in general, five phases of dental deterioration. Let’s examine them in more detail below.

tooth decay
Figure 5. Stages of Tooth Decay.

Stage 1: Initial demineralization

Enamel is the sort of tissue that makes up your teeth’s outer covering. The toughest tissue in your body, enamel is mostly composed of minerals.

Nevertheless, the enamel of a tooth starts to lose these minerals when it is exposed to the acids that the plaque bacteria create.

One of your teeth may develop a white spot as a result of this. The first indication of tooth decay is this region of mineral loss.

Stage 2: Enamel decay

Enamel will deteriorate much more if tooth decay is allowed to persist. It’s possible to observe a white patch on a tooth becoming brownish.

Dental caries, often known as cavities, are tiny holes that can occur in your teeth as a result of enamel erosion. Your dentist will have to fill any cavities.

Stage 3: Dentin decay

The tissue underneath the enamel is called dentin. Because it is softer than enamel, acid damage might do greater harm to it. As a result, when dental decay reaches the dentin, it advances more quickly.

Additionally, dentin has tubes that connect to the tooth’s nerves. This is why you may start to feel sensitive when tooth decay affects the dentin. This could be especially noticeable while consuming hot or cold meals or beverages.

Stage 4: Pulp damage

The tooth’s pulp is its deepest layer. It has blood vessels and nerves that support the tooth’s health. The pulp’s nerves supply the tooth with feeling as well.

The pulp may get inflamed and begin to swell when injury occurs. Pressure on the nerves may result from the surrounding tissues in the tooth being unable to enlarge to accommodate the swelling. Pain may result from this.

Stage 5: Abscess

Bacteria can infiltrate the pulp of teeth as decay progresses, leading to an infection. An abscess, which is a pocket of pus that forms at the base of your tooth, can result from increased inflammation in your teeth.

Severe discomfort from tooth abscesses may go into the jaw. Fever, enlarged lymph nodes in your neck, and swelling of your gums, cheeks, or jaw are some more symptoms that might exist.

4. What Are The Symptoms Of Tooth Decay?

Symptoms of tooth decay can vary depending on the stage of the condition. In its early stages, you might not experience any noticeable symptoms. As the decay progresses, common signs can include:

  • Toothache: A persistent or intermittent toothache, especially when biting down or consuming hot, cold, or sweet foods.
  • Visible Holes or Pits: You may notice visible holes, pits, or dark spots on the surface of the teeth.
  • Sensitivity: Increased sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, particularly when consuming food or drinks.
  • Pain: Pain or discomfort around the affected tooth or in the general area of the mouth.
  • Bad Breath: Persistent bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
  • Discoloration: Darkening or staining of the tooth’s surface.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s advisable to schedule an appointment with a dentist for proper evaluation and treatment. Tooth deterioration can be stopped in its tracks with early identification and treatment.

5. What Is Included In Tooth Decay Treatment

Tooth decay treatment varies depending on the extent of the decay. The common treatments include:

  • Fillings: For minor decay, the dentist removes the affected part of the tooth and fills the cavity with materials like composite resin, amalgam, or porcelain.
  • Crowns: When decay is extensive and affects a larger portion of the tooth, a crown, or cap, may be placed to restore its shape and function.
  • Root Canal Therapy: If decay reaches the tooth’s pulp (nerve and blood vessels), a root canal may be necessary. This include clearing away the contaminated pulp, sanitizing the area, and caulking it.
  • Extraction: In severe cases where the tooth is extensively decayed and can’t be saved, extraction might be the only option.
  • Preventive Care: Dentists also focus on preventive measures like fluoride treatments, dental sealants, and educating patients on oral hygiene practices to prevent further decay.

Following a comprehensive examination by a dentist, the treatment plan is decided upon taking into account the tooth’s condition and the extent of the decay. More intrusive procedures are frequently avoided with early intervention. Frequent dental examinations aid in early detection and prompt treatment.

Tooth Decay Treatment: Tooth Decay – Process

6. How To Prevent Tooth Decay

When bacteria cover your teeth in a sticky substance known as plaque, tooth decay results. Over time, this erodes your teeth’s surface. Since children frequently experience tooth decay, it’s critical to ensure that they start taking good care of their teeth and gums at a young age.

You can keep your children’s teeth and gums healthy and help prevent dental decay with a few simple steps.

Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day – spit after brushing, do not rinse Do not smoke
Use floss or interdental brushes to clean between your teeth Do not have too much sugary food or drink
Make use of sugar-free medications
Maintain regular dental check-ups


  1. Brush and Floss Regularly: Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily. This helps remove plaque and bacteria that cause decay.
  2. Use Fluoride: Use fluoride toothpaste and consider fluoride treatments recommended by your dentist. Fluoride strengthens enamel and helps prevent decay.
  3. Balanced Diet: Limit sugary snacks and drinks. Instead, opt for a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  4. Drink Water: Water helps rinse away food particles and bacteria. It’s an excellent choice over sugary or acidic drinks.
  5. Dental Check-ups: Regular visits to the dentist (usually every six months) for cleanings and check-ups can catch early signs of decay before they become major problems.
  6. Dental Sealants: Consider dental sealants for molars. They act as a protective barrier against decay, especially in children.
  7. Quit Smoking: Smoking can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. Quitting smoking promotes better oral health.
  8. Chew Sugar-free Gum: Chewing sugar-free gum, especially after meals, stimulates saliva production, which helps clean the mouth.
  9. Use Mouthwash: Consider using an antimicrobial mouthwash to reduce bacteria in the mouth and help prevent decay.

By implementing these preventative methods and upholding proper oral hygiene habits, you may dramatically lower your chances of tooth decay and other dental problems.

7. Can untreated tooth decay be tolerated?

Tooth decay treatment becomes necessary when the enamel (outer layer) of the tooth is damaged by acids created by bacteria.Deterioration can worsen without treatment, resulting in cavities, infections, and even tooth loss. You might need tooth decay treatment if:

  • You have Toothache: Persistent toothache or pain, especially while chewing or consuming hot or cold foods, can indicate decay.
  • Visible Holes or Discoloration: Dark spots, pits, or holes on the tooth surface could signify decay.
  • Sensitivity: Increased tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks may suggest decay.
  • Pain When Biting: Discomfort or pain when you bite down could signal decay that’s reached the inner layers of the tooth.
  • Bad Breath or Unpleasant Taste: Persistent bad breath or a foul taste could result from decay and bacterial growth.
  • Swelling or Pus: Swelling around the gums, jaw, or face and pus around a tooth can indicate an infection due to decay.
  • Loose or Broken Fillings: Damaged fillings or dental work can expose the tooth to decay, requiring treatment.

8. A Word From Sydney

It is imperative that you visit a dentist right away if you notice any of these signs of tooth decay. More invasive operations and more harm can be avoided with early treatment. Regular dental check-ups help catch decay in its early stages before symptoms arise, making treatment simpler and less invasive.

Prevent is better than cure. Therefore, the best way to keep your teeth healthy is to maintain good dental habits besides avoiding unhealthy routines. Contact us Sydney Dental immediately if you need any tooth decay treatment to complete your pretty smile.

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