Tooth decay is the leading cause of tooth loss and gum disease. It is an extremely common problem that affects many children and adults in South Africa. Although tooth decay is easily preventable, symptoms often only appear when the decay becomes serious, therefore it is important that you schedule regular dental appointments. If your dentist spots decay in its early stages, there are treatments that can be done to prevent further problems. In order to prevent tooth decay from taking place, you will need to understand what it is and how it occurs. Here are a few questions and answers regarding tooth decay.
What causes tooth decay?
Tooth decay is caused when sugar and food particles are not properly cleaned from the tooth. These food particles cause plaque to build up around the tooth, which results in acid. The acid then eats away at the tooth enamel, causing little holes known as cavities. After a while, the cavities expose the dentine – the inner structure of the tooth – making the tooth sensitive to hot or cold food and beverages. If the cavity reaches the centre of the tooth, it could lead to infection and extreme pain and may require root canal treatment or an extraction.
What is plaque?
Plaque is a thin, sticky film that forms on your teeth when you eat or drink. It contains many types of bacteria, and when left untreated it can harden and turn into tartar which can only be properly removed by a dentist or oral hygienist.
What is enamel?
Sometimes referred to as the hardest part of the body, enamel is the protective outer coating of the tooth. Inside of the tooth enamel, you will find the nerves and blood vessels of the tooth. This area is known as the pulp of the tooth.
What are the signs of tooth decay?
In the early stages there are little to no symptoms of tooth decay, but your dentist maye be able to spot a cavity through the use of an X-ray or a thorough examination of your mouth.
To prevent future toothaches, schedule an appointment with your dentist once every six months. Contact us for a dentist in Cape Town.
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