Tooth decay, or dental caries, is the destruction of the tooth enamel that results from a combination of sugar, bacteria and time. Bacteria naturally residing in our mouths survive by feeding off the sugar in our diets, such as from milk, pop, raisins, cakes or candy. These bacteria accumulate on the teeth to produce enamel-destroying acid. As the time between brushings increases and the number of bacteria multiplies, so does the amount of acid on our teeth. More acid means more wearing of the enamel, and, eventually, tooth decay. At Horizon Dental, we offer reliable tooth decay treatment in Terrace.
The number one thing you can do to prevent your teeth from decaying is to maintain good oral hygiene habits. We recommend that you:
Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste;
Clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaner;
Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacking;
Check with your dentist about use of fluoride, which strengthens your teeth, and about the use of dental sealants (a plastic protective coating) applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from decay;
Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings, oral examinations and fluoride treatments.
Note: Please refer to our Early Childhood Caries (ECC) info sheet for additional information on how to prevent tooth decay in your children.
Allowing tooth decay to progress will cause substantial damage to the structure of the tooth. Decay may spread to the root of the tooth, causing it also to become infected, and potentially cause the tooth to abscess. Inevitably, such damage is accompanied by significant pain in the afflicted area. The longer tooth decay is left untreated, the more extensive and costly the required restorative procedures are.
Once the tooth structure has been weakened by decay, there is no way to reverse the damage. If decay is caught in the early stages, its progression can be halted through direct or indirect dental restoration. Direct restorative procedures involve removing the decayed tissue, placing a soft filling into the prepared tooth, and building up the tooth before the material sets hard. The advantage of direct restorations is that they usually set quickly and can be placed in a single procedure.
In cases of advanced tooth decay, an indirect restoration is usually recommended. An indirect dental restoration is produced outside of the mouth, and then adhered to the prepared, affected tooth. Common restorations for treating advanced tooth decay are crowns, inlays and onlays.
If the decay has spread to the root of the tooth, infecting the root tissue, the dentist may consider root canal treatment. Please refer to our Root Canal Treatment info sheet for more information on this procedure.
The most severe cases of tooth decay may require extraction, or removal, of the affected tooth. A replacement tooth, in the form of an implant or bridge, is usually recommended.