Did you know over 80% of Americans get at least one cavity by the time they reach their mid-30s? Or that cavities are one of the most common diseases people of all ages experience? February is both Valentine’s Day and National Toothache Day, making it a great opportunity to show your smile some love by getting prompt treatment for developing tooth decay. Taking preventative care of your teeth and gums, along with getting routine cleanings and exams, go a long way to helping you avoid cavities.
Dental cavities are holes in your teeth that arise when oral acids wear down vital tooth enamel, that hard outer layer that protects the more vulnerable dentin and tooth pulp below. When cavities go ignored, you can end up with a painful toothache from infection and potentially lose the tooth. While tooth decay arises in people of all ages, children are at a higher risk for cavities, often because of poor and inconsistent dental hygiene. They also tend to indulge in sugary foods and drinks.
While cavities start small, they eventually reach all the tooth layers. Cavities can take three years to get through the protective tooth enamel layer. Once there, the damage develops quickly, as it invades the softer dentin and then pulp layers below. Once the cavities reach the pulp, they affect the tooth’s nerve endings and blood supply.
Tooth Decay Progression
- 1. Tooth decay initially affects the outer, smooth layer. Unless consistent, daily oral hygiene and regular dental cleanings halt the progression, the decay will continue invading the tooth.
- 2. Pit and fissure decay starts at the top of the tooth, where chewing takes place, but it can even damage the front area of the molars.
- 3. Root decay often occurs in older adults dealing with receding gums, revealing the tooth’s root and exposing it to destructive dental plaque and acid.
Never Ignore the Signs of Tooth Decay
The problem with tooth decay is that over time you can experience tooth loss in a large area of the tooth that will need to be removed. As tooth decay continues to go untreated, it can eventually cause a severe infection inside your damaged tooth and below the gums. Also, the infection can then spread through your body via the bloodstream. Unfortunately, tooth decay taking place on the outer enamel layer typically doesn’t involve pain or symptoms, so once the decay reaches the dentin and root layers, the damage will be done, and you may experience the following warning signs:
- Chronic bad breath or foul taste in your mouth
- Bleeding gums, red or swollen gums
- Swelling in the face
- Toothache or pain in your mouth
- Tooth sensitivity to temperature extremes in food and beverages
- Redness inside or around your mouth
Endodontic Cavity Treatment
If a cavity gets to the point where you experience a painful toothache, our endodontic team can help you in the following ways:
- Root canal: We carefully and thoroughly remove the damaged or infected tooth pulp, followed by resealing the tooth to lower the risk of reinfection.
- Endodontic retreatment: A tooth from a previous root canal treatment may not heal properly. In that case, we can remove and replace the materials.
- Endodontic surgery: Sometimes a specialized surgery (apicoectomy) may be done to get rid of the end, or tip, of a damaged tooth’s root.
- Emergency dental surgery: We can fix a complex dental injury or a severe tooth infection with emergency oral surgery.
- Tooth extraction (removal) surgery: Our endodontist can pull the tooth when there is too much tissue damage preventing us from saving it.
- Dental implant surgery: In this case, we will restore an extracted or lost tooth with a dental implant. This may be done to support one or more (dental bridge) missing teeth, so your mouth looks, feels and functions normally after losing teeth.
Don’t Delay, Call Today!
We hope you know that your smile matters to us! Our professional, skilled team has helped many people restore their smiles after tooth decay, and we look forward to helping you do the same. We welcome your call and help you quickly!