What Causes Tooth Decay?

What Causes Tooth Decay?

Our Streatham dentist investigates this common dental problem.

Tooth decay is one of the most common dental problems that we see at the Confidental Clinic. Children especially are likely to suffer from it due to their fondness for high sugar foods, although some adults are not too far behind!

With a little care and regular visits to have your teeth checked by one of our dentists, tooth decay can largely be avoided, or, at least, can be treated in its early stages to stop it from developing into something more serious. By keeping regular appointments, there is every chance that decay can be dealt with before a bad toothache means that you need emergency dental treatment to relieve the pain.

What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay is not caused by the sugar itself that we eat, but by the acids and bacteria that are always present in our mouths. When we eat sugary food and drinks (or high carbohydrate foods which convert into sugar), the bacteria changes the sugars into not only energy, but acids too. If the teeth are not cleaned regularly and thoroughly, these acids will start to attack the enamel, gradually dissolving it and forming cavities. It is through these cavities that the bacteria can gain access to the softer dentin layer of the tooth.

As the bacteria affects the softer dentin layer, dental decay occurs. If left untreated, this can enter the root canals of the tooth, exposing the nerves stored there to the bacteria which may lead to severe toothache and even a dental abscess. Whilst a tooth affected in this way can be treated with a root canal procedure, it is much better and easier to prevent it from reaching this stage.

Dental fillings

Providing that your diet is not excessively high in sugar and that you brush well and visit your Confidental dentist in Streatham for a checkup every six months, any signs of dental decay should be easily detected and treated. In most cases, providing that the decay has not advanced too far, a simple filling should be all that is necessary. Patients are able to choose from either a regular amalgam filling, or the tooth coloured fillings that we offer at our practice.

Where decay is more advanced, alternative solutions are to remove the affected part of the tooth and rebuild it using a dental crown. For rear teeth, inlays or onlays can be used for larger cavities or as an aesthetic alternative to amalgam fillings.

Whilst reducing sugar consumption and cleaning and flossing your teeth regularly are an important part of keeping your teeth healthy; attending our practice every six months or so for a professional dental examination is essential too. If you have not seen a dentist for some time and would like to register at our Streatham practice, please call the Confidental Clinic on 020 86742052.