family dentistry

What is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is a preventable build up of bacteria.

Tooth decay, also known as dental caries is caused by the breakdown of tooth enamel which is the result of bacteria on the teeth that are produced by the body to break down the type of foods that we ingest into our body. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to serious and lasting complications in the mouth such as pain, gum disease, abscesses, and tooth loss.  

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Facts About Tooth Decay

Here are some quick facts about tooth decay:

  • According to a study by the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay (cavities) remains one of the most chronic diseases for both children and adults.
  • A Study from the National Health and Nutrition Survey shows that 90% of adults aged over 20 years suffer from tooth decay.
  • Tooth decay is preventable, but for millions of Americans it causes pain and suffering each year.
  • There are three major factors which cause tooth decay: a diet rich in fast burning sugars, acid-producing bacteria, and susceptibility of teeth.
  • Fluoride, particularly water enriched fluoride or fluoride toothpaste protects the teeth against decay, strengthening enamel to be more resistant to acids.
  • Tooth decay causes holes in your teeth called cavities.

Symptoms Of Tooth Decay

  • Toothaches
  • Tooth abscess  
  • Sharp spontaneous pain when eating or drinking hot or cold foods
  • Visible holes (pits) in the teeth
  • Staining on the surface of a tooth
  • Pain when biting down.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste after eating and drinking.

    Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

  • Rinse your mouth with fluoride.

    According to studies, those who rinse with fluoride regularly have a 40% less of a chance of developing cavities than those who don’t.

  • Avoid frequent snacking and sipping.

    The bacteria in your mouth creates acids to break down the food you eat. These acids can and will destroy tooth enamel. Your teeth can be in constant attack the more frequently you eat.

  • Watch your diet.

    Avoid eating and foods and drinks containing high levels of fast burning sugars and starches. These are not only bad for your health, but also increase the acidity of your mouth breaking down the enamel.

  • Chewing Sugar-Free Gum containing Xylitol.

    Sugar-free gum along with fluoride and antibacterial rises can help reduce the risk of cavities.


Seeing A Dental Professional

Initially, cavities and tooth decay can develop without any pain or symptoms. That’s why it’s important to have regular dental teeth cleanings and checkups to ensure that if a cavity is detected, it is treated early enough to ensure the longevity and health of the tooth.

When treating cavities, Dr. Piero a Holland Michigan dentist (click here) may use dental sealants. A sealant is a protective plastic coating applied to the surfaces of the teeth.  The sealant shields off the grooves of the teeth where food tends to store, protecting the tooth enamel from plaque and bacterial produced acids which cause tooth decay.    

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