Tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities, is a common problem affecting people of all ages. It occurs when bacteria in the mouth produce acids that attack and eat away at the outer layer (enamel) of the tooth. If left untreated, the decay can spread deeper into the tooth. As a result, this can cause additional dental concerns we see daily at Sweet Tooth Dentistry.
Eventually, it can reach the inside of the tooth, causing a painful infection. Cavities are easily avoided and can be spotted by your dentist at regular checkups. Dr. Kevin Welinsky offers several treatments for tooth decay in Towson, MD, for his patients.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is caused by several factors, including poor dental hygiene, a diet filled with too much sugar and acidic foods and drinks, dry mouth, and certain medical conditions that reduce saliva flow. Bacteria in the mouth thrive on food particles left on teeth and produce acids that eat away at the tooth enamel. Over time, the acid breaks down the enamel, creating a cavity.
Frequent consumption of sugary and acidic foods and drinks provides a steady supply of food for bacteria and creates an acidic environment that weakens the enamel. Dry mouth, which can be caused by medications or medical conditions, reduces saliva flow and lowers the mouth’s natural defense against decay. Saliva helps neutralize acids and wash away food particles and bacteria.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay?
The good thing about tooth decay is that it is easily preventable. To prevent tooth decay, we recommend that you incorporate the following habits into your life:
- Brush your teeth every day: Brushing your teeth is a major part of maintaining good oral health and avoiding cavities. You should do it twice a day for about two minutes. Use toothpaste with fluoride because it strengthens the enamel and makes it more resistant to decay.
- Floss daily: In addition to brushing, you should floss every day. This removes food particles and plaque from between teeth, where a toothbrush cannot reach.
- Limit sugary and acidic foods and drinks: Limit the consumption of sugary and acidic foods and drinks, such as candy, soda, and fruit juice. If you do consume them, rinse your mouth with water afterward or chew sugar-free gum to increase saliva flow.
- Drink plenty of water: Drinking water helps wash away food particles and bacteria and keep the mouth hydrated.
- Chew sugar-free gum: Chewing sugar-free gum helps stimulate saliva flow, which neutralizes acids and washes away food particles and bacteria.
- Visit your Dentist: Regular dentist appointments will ensure you are in good oral health. They will also catch tooth decay in the early stages when treatment is more conservative. We recommend that you visit us twice a year for a checkup and teeth cleaning.
How to Treat Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay in the early stages can be easily treated with a dental filling. Dr. Welinsky offers several types filling materials to fill in the cavity. A tooth filling is a simple procedure that the dentist can complete in just one visit. The material will restore the shape and function of the tooth and prevent further decay.
If the decay damages the tooth significantly and an infection develops, Dr. Welinsky will need to perform a root canal. During this procedure, he will remove the infected tissue and then fill the canals with a sealing material. In most cases, we will recommend a dental crown. This will protect the tooth and restore its function.
In the most extreme cases of decay, he may need to extract the tooth. However, the dentist will do everything he can to save your tooth.
If you suffer from tooth decay in Towson, MD, schedule an appointment with Dr. Welinsky today. After examining your tooth, he will determine the best treatment to restore its function and your oral health. Call us or schedule your appointment online.