If you aren’t visiting your dentist regularly, it’s integral to keep up with your dental care and hygiene. If you aren’t brushing or flossing every day, then you’re most likely going to deal with a dental issue, such as tooth decay. Of all the dental problems you can have, tooth decay is one of the most common.
But how do you identify tooth decay, and what impact does it have on oral health?
We’re happy you asked.
What Is Tooth Decay?
According to the professionals at Affinity Dental, tooth decay occurs when there’s damage to the tooth’s surface (or enamel). The deterioration of enamel is typically brought on by bacteria and is known as plaque.
Tooth decay often leads to cavities and infections if not treated as soon as possible. Untreated tooth decay can lead to an array of issues, from excruciating pain to tooth loss and even death.
The symptoms of tooth decay may vary in severity. Some people may not experience any signs at all during the early stages. As the decaying tooth worsens, individuals may experience some of the following:
- Tooth sensitivity
- Sharp pain while eating or drinking
- Black, brown, or white stains on the surface of the teeth
- Holes or craters in the affected tooth
- Regular toothaches
You might be wondering about the correlation between tooth decay and cardiovascular disease. As the bacteria spread through your gums, they can cause an infection in the bloodstream, which affects the heart valves. A plaque build-up in the arteries can also block your blood flow, leading to a potential heart attack.
Weak Immune System
Poor oral hygiene can lead to a massive build-up of bacteria in your mouth. If the bacteria enter your bloodstream, your immune system can become weaker, and a weakening immune system can make you susceptible to illnesses and extreme fatigue.
Worsening Health Problems
Existing health issues, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and HIV/AIDS can worsen due to high levels of bacteria from tooth decay. Because bacteria can weaken your immune system, chronic conditions will become more severe and potentially fatal. A dental clinic in Saskatoon suggests making regular dental appointments to avoid the risk of health problems becoming any worse.
Tooth decay typically starts with a cavity developing on the tooth’s surface. As the cavity spreads, it can expose the tooth’s pulp chamber. The pulp chamber is the inner section of the tooth that contains connective tissues, nerves, and blood vessels. When bacteria enter the pulp chamber, they infect the soft tissues, and this leads to excruciating pain. Tooth decay infections can be so severe that they spread into areas close to the brain, producing fatal consequences.
A tooth abscess can occur when tooth decay leads to a bacterial infection. An abscess is a pocket of pus that can appear in different areas on/near the affected tooth. An abscessed tooth can be severely painful and lead to tooth loss if not treated immediately. If you let an abscessed tooth get worse over time, the results could be life-threatening.
It’s easy to get tooth decay if you’re not following a proper oral care routine. Some other factors are:
- Not using enough fluoride products, such as toothpaste or mouthwash.
- Not drinking enough water.
- Consuming a sugar-rich diet or acidic food/beverages. These types of foods increase the risk of tooth deterioration and cavities.
- A lack of saliva in the mouth due to health conditions or medications. A dry mouth can increase the risk of cavities.
- Gum disease can play a part in tooth decay, as the infection destroys soft tissues in the mouth and the enamel on your teeth.
How To Avoid Tooth Decay
Maintaining good oral and dental hygiene can help you avoid tooth decay and a cluster of other dental problems.
Some tips to prevent tooth decay include the following:
- Brush with fluoride toothpaste and rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after every meal.
- Drink more water. Many city water supplies have added fluoride, reducing tooth decay risk.
- Eat healthy foods that increase saliva flow, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid snacking too often. Too much sugary and acidic foods will only increase the rate of tooth decay.
- Make an appointment with your dentist, as they will be able to identify any dental issues and provide the proper treatment before it’s too late.
Cleaning of Dental Implants
Dentists recommend cleaning dental implants every six months to keep them healthy and functioning properly. To clean an implant, the dentist will use a special instrument called a debridement tool. The debridement tool removes plaque and other debris from around the implant. The dentist may also use a jet of water to clean the implant. After cleaning, the dentist will polish the surface of the implant to restore its shine. If you are worried about how to clean all on 4 dental implants, the same above process applies on it as well.
Poor oral hygiene can lead to severe consequences. Now that you know about the health risks of tooth decay, you should make an appointment with your dentist today. They’ll be able to inspect your teeth and gums to ensure you maintain your pearly whites and good health.