Diagnosing and Treating Tooth Decay
Practicing good dental hygiene helps prevent tooth decay, the deterioration of tooth structure in the enamel (outer coating of the tooth) or the dentin layer (between the enamel and pulp chamber, inner area of the tooth). These practices include:
- Brushing your teeth after each meal and before bed, or at least twice a day
- Flossing daily
- Rinsing with a mouthwash to help kill plaque-causing bacteria
- Eating healthy food, limiting carbohydrate intake
- Visiting your dentist
Despite following these habits, your teeth might still deteriorate because of the food that you eat or inconsistencies in routine care. Symptoms of tooth decay include:
- Consistent toothaches or sharp pains
- Tooth sensitivity such as tenderness or pain when eating or drinking hot or cold food and beverages
- Gray, brown, or black spots appearing on the teeth
- Bad breath
- An unpleasant taste in the mouth
If you have any of these symptoms, contact us at Walnut Pond Dental in Annandale, NJ, where Drs. Victoria Uryniak and Carson Ferris-Zeolla will help restore and take care of your teeth.
How Does Tooth Decay Happen?
Bacteria in the mouth digest foods containing sugars and starches and turn them into acids. Combined with food debris and saliva, plaque forms from the bacteria-into-acid process. Acids in the plaque dissolve enamel, creating cavities.
Plaque and bacteria can reach the dentin layer once cavities have formed in the enamel. Tooth decay speeds up after this point, becoming more painful.
If left untreated, bacteria can enter the pulp chamber, the soft center of the tooth containing blood vessels and nerves. Risk of infection increases if tooth decay continues.
Tooth Decay Levels and Treatments
The sooner tooth decay is treated, the less extensive and expensive the procedure.
Early Stage Tooth Decay
If caught at the stage of tooth decay called demineralization, or slight deterioration, of enamel, Drs. Uryniak and Ferris-Zeolla will treat tooth decay with fluoride.
Professional fluoride treatments contain a higher concentration of fluoride than what you will find in toothpaste and water, designed to specifically treat cavities. Fluoride protects teeth by strengthening enamel, helping teeth become more resistant to acids in plaque build-up.
Dental Decay Requiring a Filling or Crown
Tooth decay that has broken down the enamel and reaches the dentin layer requires a dental filling or crown. At Walnut Pond, Drs. Uryniak and Ferris-Zeolla use composite resin for tooth-colored fillings, which can be matched to the color of teeth surrounding the one that needs restoration.
For a cavity that is too large for a filling, they will suggest a dental crown instead of a filling. Custom-made from materials such as porcelain, zirconia, and porcelain fused to metal, dental crowns cover your tooth’s natural crown, and restore and reinforce a decaying tooth.
Severe Tooth Decay
A deeper cavity, reaching the dentin layer or pulp layer might require root canal therapy or a tooth extraction. When bacteria reach the pulp chamber, the affected tissues need to be removed; post-removal, the infected area is medicated and then replaced with a filling.
Some severely decayed teeth necessitate extraction. After the tooth removal, Drs. Uryniak and Ferris-Zeolla will advise a bridge or dental implant to replace the pulled tooth.
If you think you have a cavity, don’t wait to get it treated out of fear of the dentist. Taking care of tooth decay early on helps save you time and money. The team at our Annandale, NJ practice can diagnose and treat your dental issues. Call our office at (908) 200-7007 or contact us online.