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 at 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) signaling 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.
Easy steps we can take to protect your teeth
• Maintain a good ORAL HEALTH regime
• Brush them twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste
• Brush for 2 minutes (use a timer)
• Clean between them every day (floss)
• Minimise the consumption and frequency of sweet, sugary and acidic food and drinks
• Avoid snacking (your teeth need a break too)
• May be recommended for your child on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (where decay often starts)
• Drink plenty of fluoridated (tap) water and/or include a fluoride supplement into your child’s daily routine (eg. Tooth Mousse) to help strengthen weakened enamel.
Thanks to Tu-Anh our wonderful Oral Health Therapist. She works at the Essendon clinic on Monday and Thursday.
If you would like to talk to her about this or any other questions you may have, please contact us on 03 9372 8960.