Tooth decay is one of the most common reasons people visit the dental office. Also referred to as cavities or dental caries, tooth decay occurs due to an accumulation of acidic plaque and tartar that sticks to the teeth and eats through the hard enamel. Tooth decay rarely creates symptoms in its early stages, so it’s important to practice preventive care and visit the dentist regularly.
Symptoms of Tooth Decay
Early tooth decay is very difficult to detect without the assistance of a dentist. In fact, the best way to find cavities when they’re still very small is with dental X-rays. This is one reason why it’s so important to visit the dentist regularly. The dentist can find cavities through X-rays or by examining the teeth to find discolored spots that could indicate decay.
Some other symptoms of tooth decay include:
- Increased sensitivity
- Persistent toothache
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
If you notice any of these issues, let your dentist know. If you are experiencing extreme discomfort, you should make an appointment as soon as possible. The sooner decay is diagnosed, the less invasive any necessary restorations will be.
Preventing Tooth Decay
The best way to deal with tooth decay is to keep it from happening in the first place. The first step is to brush and floss on a regular basis, removing the plaque from your teeth that can harden into tartar and eat through the tooth enamel. You should also visit your dentist regularly for exams and X-rays.
Avoiding certain foods can also help prevent tooth decay. Foods that are most likely to contribute to decay include:
- Sugary foods
- Sugary drinks, especially sodas
- Sticky foods like taffy or chewy candies
- Acidic foods that can eat through the enamel
By taking good care of your teeth, maintaining a healthy diet, and visiting the dentist regularly, you can avoid cavities and ensure that your teeth will remain strong and intact for many years to come.