What is Tooth Decay?
There are several terms associated with tooth decay; patients may say cavities, caries, sugar bugs, tartar or calculus. All of these terms refer to bacteria and the destruction from it eating away enamel causing damage to your teeth. Daily brushing, flossing, and biannual dental cleanings with a professional hygienist are all tools for fighting tooth decay, keeping your teeth healthier longer. Our staff at Water's Edge Dental can provide you the education, along with helpful tips to stave of decay while also seeking and removing any current decay. Working together, you can have a healthy smile.
Teeth decay from the presence of sugar particles left in the mouth and on the teeth. Diets today contain considerably more sugar then in years past, you may be surprised to learn how many of our foods contain sugar! From bread to pasta, sweets, juice and more, sugar is abundant. As we chew these things, particles get stuck in our teeth and cling to the plaque. Plaque is a sticky substance; it is created naturally in our mouth as a blend of saliva and debris. The bacteria in plaque feed on the sugar particles that cling to it, as the bacteria feed it then emits an acid that decays our teeth.
The acid emitted from bacteria is quite powerful, it degrades and breaks down the enamel, which is quite strong. Enamel is the hard outer layer of our teeth. It is the hardest substance in our body, harder than bone. This hard layer allows us to chew food while protecting the inner layer of our teeth. If your enamel becomes heavily damaged, our body does not grow more; it does not heal like bone, there are no living cells to regenerate it. When decay occurs, we have to intervene to save the tooth and prevent pain.
If we find that you have decay on a tooth, the first step is to assess the level of damage. We will remove the decayed portion using a specialized dental drill. The space left is cleansed and then filled with a tooth filling material. We offer both silver amalgam fillings and composite white fillings. Amalgam is a less expensive material that is strong and long-lasting, though depending on where the cavity is located it may not be ideal due to its dark color. The composite filler is a blend of ceramic and resin that we can shade to match the color of your tooth, the composite used today is nearly as strong and durable, making it often the filler of choice.
If the patient has a large amount of decay, we may suggest a dental crown, or cap, to encase the tooth in a protective layer. Crowns are customized to fit your bite and enamel color. If a patient had a significant portion of the tooth damaged, a crown could greatly extend the life of the natural tooth structure. Saving the tooth is always the best choice for your long-term oral health. We are happy to evaluate and discuss this in more detail with you, personalized for your specific need.