Tooth decay is best identified early on, because decay will continue to worsen over time if left untreated. By the time tooth decay causes noticeable symptoms, it may have progressed fairly significantly and will likely require restorative procedures. Below is a look at the stages of tooth decay and the kinds of treatments that can help:
- Plaque and tartar build up on the tooth: After you eat, residual food particles can remain tucked away on areas of the teeth where they mix with saliva and bacteria. As a result, plaque, a sticky film substance, forms and adheres to the teeth.
- Tooth enamel is worn down: When plaque and tartar accumulate on the surface of the teeth, they break down the tough outer enamel that protects the softer tissue beneath it.
- Decay penetrates deeper into the tooth: If cavities in the enamel remain unidentified, the decay will keep digging deeper into the tooth structure. Eventually, decay will reach the tooth pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels. When tooth decay reaches this point, pain and sensitivity will be fairly severe.
Treatment and Prevention
A root canal is a treatment for advanced tooth decay that has reached the pulp of the tooth. Because the pulp is exposed, the nerves need to be removed to eliminate pain. This procedure cleans the middle cavity of the tooth, which is then filled. Finally, a crown is placed over the tooth for stability.
You can prevent the need for this type of treatment by visiting your dentist for regular check-ups. Regular cleanings and dental x-rays and exams will help to prevent decay and identify early signs of a problem. Less invasive treatments like cavity fillings or changes to your oral care routine can stop decay before it progresses to an advanced stage.
To keep your teeth strong and free of decay, schedule a cleaning and exam with Dr. John Carson, DDS at his Tucson dental office. Call (520) 514-7203 and our staff will provide personalized and compassionate care to help you achieve a healthy smile.