9 March, 2019

What Happens When Teeth Rot?


From an early age we’re taught to take care of our teeth and to brush twice a day to keep them healthy and strong.

As we get older, we’re advised to floss our teeth as well, but in-spite of our efforts to keep them clean, most people will experience tooth decay in their lifetime.

Tooth rot or decay occurs because when you eat, bacteria which lives in the mouth turns certain foods into acids. The bacteria, acid, food debris and saliva combine to form plaque which clings to the teeth and this dissolves the enamel creating holes or cavities.

How do you know teeth are decaying?

Tooth decay doesn’t cause any pain, but you may develop symptoms which could be the first signs that there are problems. Your teeth may become sensitive when you’re eating or drinking something hot, cold or sugary or you may experience toothache.

Another sign that a tooth is decaying is if your breath is bad, or on closer inspection of your teeth, small discoloured marks start to appear.

How does bacteria rot your teeth?

Dental caries is the scientific term for tooth decay or cavities. There are many different types of bacteria which naturally live in the mouth. Bacteria feeds on the sugars in the foods and drinks which we consume.

When bacteria gather together with food particles, acid and saliva, it develops into plaque. This destroys the outer layer of the tooth, then the enamel and the softer layer under it, the dentin.

If the decay is not removed, damage will worsen, and decay can occur within the inner part of the tooth which contains the pulp and sensitive nerve fibres.

How you can reduce your risk

The best way to reduce this acid forming is by eating less sugar or starchy foods during the day. Chewing gum also contains xylitol which will decrease bacterial growth.

Dentists recommend using toothpaste which contains fluoride as it strengthens teeth from within, as well as protecting them externally. Another alternative is to protect the teeth with dental sealants, which is a plastic coating usually placed on the chewing surface of the back teeth. Regular dental examinations will pick up any abnormalities.

What’s the best treatment?

If the decay is bad, then the hole or cavity will need to be filled and this will be undertaken by a dentist. There’s the option of an amalgam filling which is made from a silver material or a filling using a composite resin which is tooth coloured and very hard-wearing.

If the cavity is very large, then the decay will be removed altogether, and a crown fitted to the tooth to strengthen it. Sometimes bacteria may infect the pulp and cause nerve damage. Then the tooth will need root canal treatment followed by a crown to strengthen it.

At Dentistry Plus, we use advanced digital x-ray technology to inspect your teeth. We have five clinics in and around Perth and we are covered by all health insurance funds. Our aim is to make your dental experience as comfortable as possible.

Give us a call today or book online to make your appointment. Don’t forget we have weekend appointments too.