Dr. Bruce Matthews, DDS

Signs of Tooth Decay

May 26, 2016
Posted By: Bruce E. Matthews, DDS
a woman looks in the mirror and holds her hand up to her jaw in pain | Wilmington de dentist

The main cause of tooth decay, also called cavities or dental caries, is specific types of bacteria. These acid-producing bacteria destroy the tooth enamel as well as the layer beneath it. Bacteria build up on teeth and this sticky film is referred to as plaque. Tooth decay is a very common issue that almost everyone has to deal with at some point. How does your Wilmington dentist know if you have tooth decay?

Symptoms and Signs That You Might Have Tooth Decay

Although cavities in their earliest stages may not have any symptoms, once the decay has gone through the tooth’s enamel, you might notice some sensitivity in the tooth, particularly to hot or cold. When you go in to the dentist for a checkup and examination, one of the things he or she will do is to look for tiny spots of tooth decay. X-rays are another way your dentist will look to see if there is any new tooth decay forming.

It’s important to remember that dental decay that has already destroyed tooth enamel cannot be reversed and the cavities will continue to grow over time.

Ways to Prevent Tooth Decay

We have all heard about how the consumption of sugar in food and drinks can contribute to cavities forming, so avoiding these is key. Snacking between meals can also be tooth-damaging as it causes your mouth to remain acidic. It is also best to be diligent when it comes to brushing and flossing everyday. Antibacterial mouth rinses can also help by reducing the bacteria in your mouth that cause cavities.

Chewing gum that contains xylitol can also help decrease bacterial growth in your mouth. Xylitol is not a food source for bacteria, so it inhibits its growth.

Another way to help prevent cavities is to use fluoride, which has been shown to strengthen teeth. Ask your dentist if a fluoride treatment is right for you.

How Tooth Decay Is Treated

In some cases, if tooth decay is discovered early enough, it can actually be reversed. But once the cavities get worse and break through the tooth enamel, your dentist will need to repair the tooth. The standard for repair is to fill the tooth after drilling out the decay.

Call your Wilmington dentist if you are noticing the early signs of tooth decay to prevent your cavity from getting worse!

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