What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay is a tooth disease that is caused by bacteria. The bacteria consume the layers of the tooth, leading to decay.

What causes dental decay?

Dental decay is primarily caused by bacteria. We all have different types of bacteria in our mouth, some of which are more aggressive and cause dental decay. Other factors, such as lack of saliva, which can be a side effect of certain medications or due to gland issues, can also contribute to dental decay. Additionally, diet can influence the amount of bacteria in the mouth, leading to tooth decay. If left untreated, dental decay can lead to more severe decay and ultimately tooth loss.

What are the effects of tooth decay?

The main consequence of tooth decay is the loss of the tooth. Decay starts small but if left untreated, it grows, leading to severe decay and ultimately tooth loss. Regular checkups can help diagnose and treat decay early, preventing tooth loss.

Can tooth decay lead to other complications?

Yes, tooth decay can lead to other complications. If left untreated, decay can reach the nerve of the tooth, causing pain that can range from a dull ache to severe pain. If the decay progresses further, it can lead to an infection under the tooth, causing severe pain, swelling in the mouth, and potentially the spread of bacteria throughout the body, leading to other systemic conditions such as endocarditis.

Can tooth decay return to normal?

Once tooth decay sets in, it cannot be reversed. However, if caught in the early stages, it can be treated with fluoride applications. If the decay is more advanced, the tooth can be restored with a tooth-colored filling or a crown. In severe cases, a root canal may be necessary, or if the tooth is beyond repair, it can be replaced with an implant.

How do I stop tooth decay from spreading?

The best way to stop tooth decay from spreading is to treat the decay as soon as possible. Once the decay is treated, the bacteria are eliminated, preventing further spread to other teeth.

Is tooth decay painful?

Yes, tooth decay can be painful, particularly when it reaches the nerve of the tooth. However, tooth decay is often a silent disease, with pain not occurring until the decay is quite advanced. Regular dental checkups can help catch decay early, before it becomes painful and requires more invasive treatments.

When should I see a dentist about treating tooth decay?

If you're experiencing any pain or other symptoms of tooth decay, it's important to see a dentist as soon as possible. Even if your symptoms have subsided, it's possible that the nerve of the tooth has died and an infection is developing, posing a risk to your overall health. Regular dental checkups can help catch and treat decay early, preventing more serious complications.

If you have any additional questions or you would like to make an appointment, give us a call. Smiles by the Sea at (603) 634-9445 and Smiles of Salem at (781) 631-3799. We are here to help you.