Tooth decay is a diet-related disease that damages the teeth. Teeth are covered in plaque, a sticky film that contains bacteria. When we eat and drink, the bacteria produce acids that break down the outer layer of the tooth (enamel). This is how decay develops. Dental decay can be found on both baby and adult teeth. Areas that are in a higher risk of collecting plaque and developing decay include the gum line and on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars).
It is important to address decay on baby teeth as well as adult teeth as they maintain the space for adult teeth to come through. If they are removed (prematurely), it can result in space loss and crowding of the teeth.
Signs of Decay
Waking up regularly at night from a toothache
Complaining of a sore tooth
Regular bad breath
Difficulty biting down on certain foods
Sensitivity to cold, hot or sweet food
Early tooth decay is usually identified by white spots (which can’t be removed with brushing) signalling that the enamel is starting to break down which can progress to brown spots on teeth
Advanced tooth decay is more noticeable, with blackened holes or broken teeth. If decay has led to an infection, you may notice lumps or a pimple on the gum or swelling on the gums or face
Treatment for tooth decay
Maintaining regular dental appointments at Kiddies Dental Care means we can identify the early stages of tooth decay and prevent them from progressing. Your dentist or oral health therapist can recommend pastes (Tooth Mousse) or regular visits to apply a concentrated fluoride to help the teeth remineralise and become stronger. In some cases, early decay can be cleaned out and a FISSURE SEALANT can be applied (usually on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth) to prevent the need for a filling.
Depending on the severity of the decay, treatment can range from fillings for small cavities to crowns and tooth removal if the damage if more extensive.
The longer tooth decay is left untreated your child can experience: more pain and discomfort, risk of decay spreading to other teeth including adult teeth and more complicated and expensive dental treatment.