5 Tooth Decay Treatment Options
If there is one thing that can dampen a perfect day, it is an excruciatingly painful toothache. And the culprit for that sharp pang in your mouth is none other than tooth decay. You might even be surprised to know that it is actually the second most common health disorder in the United States according to the National Institutes of Health.
Tooth decay, also referred to as cavities or caries, are permanently damaged areas in your teeth that develop into holes. It can happen to anyone regardless of age, but is more common among children and young adults and the common cause of tooth loss in young kids.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Cavities are mainly caused by the bacteria living inside your mouth and the high-sugar and starch food that we eat. Whenever you eat or drink anything that contains sugar or starch, it feeds the bacteria to produce acid. This acid begins to eat away the enamel – hard surface of your tooth, causing a hole to develop.
If left untreated, it can further complicate into tooth abscess, which happens when the bacteria gets into the pulp of the cavity through the hole in the tooth. This can lead to tooth chipping, breaking or loss and often comes with the following symptoms:
- Severe tooth pain
- Tooth sensitivity
- Gum infection and swelling
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Bad breath
- Discomfort and pain in chewing
- Swollen neck glands and jaw
Teeth Decay Treatment
That is why it is important that cavities should be immediately treated the very moment first signs of damage become obvious. There are several tooth decay treatment options available, which will largely depend on the extent of the problem.
For early stages of caries, your dentist may apply a fluoride varnish or gel to help stop further decay. Fluoride helps to protect the teeth by preventing and replacing mineral loss in the tooth enamel. More importantly, it reduces the ability of bacteria to produce acid.
Apart from being a treatment, fluoride is a preventive cure. By drinking fluorinated water or brushing with fluoride toothpaste, it can help stop and even reverse tooth decay.
For cavities that have developed into a significant hole on the tooth, fillings are the solution. This tooth decay treatment involves removing the soft decay with a drill and replacing the hole with filling, using either gold, silver alloy, porcelain or composite resin.
While the most durable, gold and silver alloy are usually used for fillings at the back teeth because these are visible and not aesthetically pleasing against the natural color of the teeth. Porcelain and composite resin, on the other hand, are generally used for front-tooth cavities, as it resembles natural teeth color.
Crowns are usually used when there is already extensive damaged to the teeth with some remaining tooth structure. The decayed portion is drilled away before a crown is replaced over the remaining structure. Like fillings, crowns are made with gold, silver alloy, porcelain or composite resin.
When the decay has wreaked damage on the nerves, root canal is the preferred choice of treatment. It involves removing the damaged tooth and the infected pulp before the root canal is cleaned in preparation for filling and crown replacement. Root canals are known for its painful process. Anesthesia is usually administered before a procedure, but improved dental techniques have made it less painful.
The last and final treatment option is tooth extraction. This is usually done to prevent infection from spreading adjacent teeth.
The best way to treat tooth decay is actually to prevent from ever happening in the first place. The steps are rather simple, but are often neglected.
- Diet change – reducing the amount of sugar and starch intake can help prevent cavities.
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Gentle flossing to help clean in between the teeth
- Using mouthwash that contain antibacterial agents to prevent gum disease and infection
- Regular dental check-up to remove dental plaque and to check for early signs of tooth decay
Taking these trouble-free steps can help prevent cavities from ruining your perfect day.