Understanding tooth decay and cavity treatment in Graham, NC

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Cavity and tooth decay treatment in Graham, NC

Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases that affect all ages. However, the good news is that there are several things you can do to prevent tooth decay and dental cavity formation. In this edition, your #1 family dentist in Graham, NC, explains all you need to know about tooth decay to take conscious steps to protect your oral health.

What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay is a disease that breaks down and causes permanent damage to the teeth. Tooth decay is one of the world’s most common health issues and is more prevalent in teenagers, children, and old adults. It can lead to dental caries (cavities), which are tiny holes in your teeth and can wreak havoc on your dental health if it is not treated.

What causes decay?

Tooth decay is caused by many factors, including poor oral hygiene, frequent snacking, taking sugary foods or drinks, and the bacteria in your mouth. It occurs when the particles of the sugary foods you eat (including those high in carbohydrates like candy, milk, bread, or fruits) stick to your tooth’s surface. The bacteria in your mouth will then digest the starch and sugar in the food particles and convert them into acids, resulting in plaque build-up on your teeth.

Plaque is acidic, and if you allow it to continue building up on your teeth, it will begin to dissolve your teeth’s enamel and create holes in them. Moreover, the plaque can harden into tartar, damage your teeth, irritate your gums, and lead to gum disease. That is why you need to practice good oral hygiene to prevent cavities and tooth decay.

Tooth decay symptoms

If you have a dental cavity or tooth decay, you may experience the following:

  • Toothache
  • Tooth sensitivity to sugary, hot, or cold foods or drinks
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Brown, black, white, or gray spots on your teeth’s surface
  • An unpleasant or awful taste in your mouth
  • Tooth infection that can lead to a dental abscess

If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, kindly visit
Dr. Rose, your #1 Graham dental professional, as soon as possible for dental examination and treatment to preserve your oral health.

Tooth decay stages

Tooth decay occurs in five stages which include:


The first stage of tooth decay involves weakening the teeth’s outer layer (enamel) due to plaque accumulation. The tooth’s enamel is made up of minerals and is the hardest tissue in the body. However, the acids produced by plaque bacteria activity can demineralize and weaken it.

When this happens, you’ll probably notice a white spot on the affected tooth. This demineralized area is an early sign of tooth decay. Thankfully, the damage done to your teeth during this stage is reversible with a fluoride treatment or brushing your teeth regularly with a fluoride mouthwash.

Enamel decay

If the plaque is not removed and the tooth decay process continues, the white spots on your teeth will start turning brown. During this stage, your enamel will break down further, and dental caries will begin to form. You’ll need to visit your dentist to remove the decayed part and get dental fillings to prevent the cavities from growing larger.

Dentin decay

If you don’t treat your cavities in time, the decay can get to your dentin. Dentin is the part of your tooth tissue that lies below the enamel. Since dentin tissues are softer than enamel, they are more susceptible to acid damage. That’s why the rate of decay increases when it reaches the dentin.

When your dentin is affected by tooth decay, you may start experiencing tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, and sugary food or drinks. That’s because the dentin has tubules that lead to the pulp, which contains the nerves and blood vessels.

Pulp damage

If tooth decay spreads to your pulp, it may become irritated and begin to swell. Since the tissues around your pulp cannot expand to accommodate the swelling pulp, pressure will start increasing on the nerves and lead to pain. You may also experience pulp necrosis (also known as pulp death), the last stage of pulp damage.

When your pulp dies, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Swelling around your tooth
  • Bad breath
  • Your tooth color changes from white to gray to black

Dental abscess

In this last stage of tooth decay, bacteria can invade the decaying pulp and cause an infection. Eventually, a pocket of pus (also known as a dental abscess) may form at the bottom of the affected tooth. A dental abscess can cause severe pain that can spread to the rest of the gums, mouth, jaw, and face.

Tooth abscesses require immediate treatment as they could lead to issues beyond your mouth. Your dentist may recommend antibiotics to kill the bacteria, a root canal to remove the infection, or extract the tooth to stop the spread of the infection.

Can you stop a cavity from getting worse?

You can prevent tooth decay or stop a cavity from getting worse by doing the following:

  • Visit your dentist regularly for oral examination and cleaning
  • Brush your teeth at least twice daily and after meals with fluoridated toothpaste
  • Avoid snacking or consuming acidic food or drinks or those with high amounts of sugar
  • Rinse and floss after eating something acidic, sticky, or high in carbohydrates
  • Drink fluoride water
  • Quit smoking and avoid using tobacco products
  • Ask your dentist about getting dental sealants to protect your molars from decay

The risks of untreated tooth decay and cavities

A large portion of your tooth may get damaged and need extraction when your tooth decay goes untreated for too long. You may also develop an infection (tooth abscess) that causes severe toothache and can spread throughout your body.

Tooth decay treatment in Graham, NC

Tooth decay can lead to cavities, tooth pain, infection, tooth loss, and other dental problems. Fortunately, we offer different tooth decay treatments in Graham, NC, to prevent cavities and restore your oral health.

When you come into our office, Dr. Rose will examine your teeth to determine the extent of the damage and recommend the best treatments for your condition. Treatment may include fluoride treatment, dental fillings, sealants, root canal, crown and bridges, tooth extraction, and dental implants to restore your teeth. We also offer several other dental services to protect your oral integrity and brighten your smile. Schedule an appointment with us today or call (336) 227-1187 to learn more about tooth decay or ask any questions about your dental concerns.

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