Tooth Decay – Why Should It Bother Me?

Often I have patients come in for their routine examination and we find a couple of small decays, which I then recommend need to be addressed and restored, but do they really need attention?

The short answer is YES.

Tooth decay is a bacterial health disease, it is the second most costly diet-related disease in Australia. Yes, a disease that affects your overall health. There has been a large emphasis on gingivitis causing chronic illnesses, but tooth decay is caused by oral bacteria as well. This bacteria travels throughout your body having an effect on different organs and systems.

Tooth decay occurs when the plaque builds up on teeth, giving oral bacteria food to metabolise, and producing acid against the tooth surface. This acid is what softens your enamel first, then into your dentine and eventually the pulp or nerve of your tooth.

While decay is in enamel, it is usually asymptomatic, has a slow progression and will go undetected until it has crossed over into the next layer of your teeth, the dentine. Once decay is in dentine, it can eat away at your tooth much more rapidly, it will keep getting bigger and deeper until it is fixed with a restoration or filling by your dentist.

Once decay has passed into the dentine, you may start to experience some sensitivity to cold, sweet or biting. Small dentine decays can usually be fixed with a simple resin filling. If left untreated, more extensive dentine decays may require porcelain inlay/onlays or crowns due to the compromised structure of your tooth being no longer able to support a simple filling. As I’m sure you are aware, as restorations get bigger and more substantial, so does the cost. Not only that, the remaining healthy tooth is forever compromised from here on.

When the tooth decay reaches the pulp of your tooth, then your tooth will require a root canal or possibly even extraction. The nerve of the tooth is now infected with the bacteria from the decay and will start to die. This process is what many nightmare dental experiences are founded on, excruciating pain, swelling, pus, infection, usually accompanied by high cost treatments to resolve the now problem.

Get decays fixed, STOP THE ROTTING OF YOUR TEETH and…..