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How Does Tooth Decay Develop?

man holding jaw wondering how does tooth decay develop

Many people experience tooth decay in their lifetime. Although it’s not life-threatening, this disease can lead to pain and lead to significant financial outflows if left untreated. So you may ask yourself, “how does tooth decay develop?” Lovett Dental can walk you through the process.

What Is Tooth Decay?

Before answering “how does tooth decay develop,” you first have to know what it is. Tooth decay is the damage to the enamel or the surface of the tooth. It is caused when bacteria in the mouth creates acid. This acid can harm the enamel or the surface of the teeth. While many people see tooth decay as a minor problem, it can lead to more serious damage, which includes:

  • Cavities
  • Pain
  • Tooth loss
  • Infection

How Does Tooth Decay Develop?

Tooth decay is the leading cause of tooth pain worldwide. It begins as the enamel breaks down and creates decay in the teeth. The stages of tooth decay include:

  • Forming of white spots
  • Decay of enamel
  • Decay of dentin
  • Pulp involvement
  • Formation of abscess
  • Loss of tooth

To understand how tooth decay develops, it is important to know what’s inside your mouth. There are hundreds of bacteria types on your gums, tongue, teeth, and other places in the mouth. Some of these bacteria and helpful, while some are not.

The bacteria in the mouth combine with food to form plaque. The starches and the sugars found in things you eat are used by bacteria in the plaque to eat away your enamel. Soon, the plaque hardens and becomes tartar, which damages the teeth and causes gum irritation.

When minerals are lost from your enamel, this leads to white spots. This early sign can still be reversed since the enamel can repair itself. But as more minerals are lost, the enamel can be destroyed. This step will lead to a cavity. You’d have to visit the dentist to repair it with a filling or replace it with implants.

Who Can Suffer from Tooth Decay?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking only children can have tooth decay. Even adults who do not take care of their teeth and lack fluoride are at risk for tooth decay. It can also affect people who do not have enough saliva because of diseases or medicine. On average, salivary glands release two liters of saliva every day. This is important in maintaining an acid-base balance in the mouth and is your body’s natural way of protecting your teeth.

It is important to always watch out for symptoms of tooth decay. These may be hard to notice in its early stages, but signs will worsen if you do not treat it properly. Signs of tooth decay include:

  • Sensitivity to cold and hot drinks
  • Sensitivity to sweets
  • Brown and white stains
  • Formation of pus
  • Toothaches

Dentists diagnose tooth decay by examining the teeth using dental instruments. You may also be asked if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. In some cases, dentists would do a dental x-ray to determine whether tooth decay is present.

Now that you know how tooth decay develops, you may have questions on how to treat it. The treatment depends on the severity of the problem. For the early stages, it can simply use fluoride treatments. For more advanced cases, dentists may do fillings, root canals, or even extractions.

How Lovett Dental Can Help

Keeping your teeth strong and healthy should be a priority. Despite being one of the most common problems people face, tooth decay is preventable. By regularly brushing your teeth and maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, you can maintain good oral health. To protect your teeth more, make sure to visit your dentist regularly.

If you want to learn more about how to answer, how does tooth decay develop, visit Lovett Dental today, or call 832-804-7427 to book your next appointment!