Tooth Decay: Prevention and Treatment

April 30, 2024

Tooth Decay: Prevention and Treatment
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Tooth Decay

The damage that bacteria in your mouth do to teeth is known as tooth decay. The acids produced by these bacteria have the ability to erode tooth layers. These consist of the tooth’s pulp, dentin, and enamel, which are its hard outer layers. The damage gets worse the more layers that have degraded.

Table of Contents

  1. What is tooth decay?
  2. Warning signs of tooth decay
  3. Root causes of tooth decay
  4. Unravel the stages of tooth decay
  5. Guide to prevent tooth decay
  6. Tooth decay treatment options
  7. Conclusion 
  8.  Frequently Asked Questions

What is tooth decay?

When carbohydrate-rich foods—like fruits, candies, bread, or milk—stick to the surface of your teeth, tooth decay results. Plaque accumulates on your teeth as a result of bacteria in your mouth breaking down these food fragments and turning them into acid.

Plaque can destroy the enamel coating on your teeth and cause cavities because it is acidic.

Warning signs of tooth decay

The following are the warning signs of dental decay: 

  • Sudden teeth pain, especially after consuming cold, hot, or sugary foods or beverages
  • Your teeth have dark patches.
  • Discomfort while biting
  • Cavities
  • Bad breath
  • Swelling of gums

Root causes of tooth decay

Tooth decay can be caused by diet and bacteria. Plaque is a transparent, adhesive material that constantly builds up on your teeth and gums. Bacteria found in plaque feed on the sugars in your diet.

The bacteria produce acids as they eat. After you eat, the acids continue to damage your teeth for at least 20 minutes. These acids erode tooth enamel over time, leading to dental disease.

There are higher chances of developing tooth decay if you:

  • do not clean and floss your teeth on a regular basis
  • avoid seeing a dentist for examinations and cleanings.
  • consume foods heavy in carbs and sugar.
  • have insufficient fluoride intake. Fluoride strengthens teeth’s resistance to the acids that plaque produces, hence preventing tooth decay. 
  • lack sufficient saliva. Saliva helps keep your teeth free from decay by washing away food particles and dangerous substances. Some medical disorders, certain medications, and mouth breathing can all contribute to dry mouth.
  • are diabetic.
  • chew tobacco, smoke, or be in an area of smoke.

Unravel the stages of tooth decay


Enamel, the toughest substance in your body, forms the outer coating of your teeth. When acids from plaque attack your teeth, enamel minerals break down. This can lead to white spots, indicating decay and demineralization. Pain is rarely felt at this stage.


As dental decay proceeds, your enamel deteriorates more, which can occasionally lead to tiny holes called cavities in the enamel. Most of the time, surface level cavities are painless. To stop further decay, your dentist may fill cavities.


If left unfilled, the cavity will spread to the dentin, the tissue beneath your tooth enamel, causing quicker decay. This can lead to sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks as dentin is connected to tooth nerves.


Once decay reaches the innermost layer of the tooth, called the pulp, inflammation and swelling may occur. This puts pressure on the tooth’s nerves, causing pain, especially when exposed to extreme temperatures.


Bacteria can lead to an infection if decay reaches the tooth’s pulp. This infection may cause an abscess, a pus-filled pocket near the tooth’s root, resulting in inflammation. Symptoms may include fever, gum, face, or jaw swelling, and severe pain that may radiate to the jaw.

Guide to prevent tooth decay

  • Make sure to brush twice a day. To lower the risk of cavities, gingivitis, and foul breath, you should brush for a minimum of two to three minutes twice a day.Use a fluoride toothpaste and a brush with gentle bristles.
  • Regularly floss your teeth. Make an effort to floss at least once a day, particularly if you consume sticky, sugary treats and enjoy sweets. Eat well and avoid sugary foods and beverages.
  • If the bristles on your toothbrush are worn out or splayed, replace it every three to four months.
  • See your dentist. Everyone should get an oral examination at least once a year, including those with extremely strict dental care routines. 
  • Steer clear of tobacco use in any manner.
  • Additionally, as soon as an issue with your oral health emerges, call your dentist.

Tooth Decay Treatment Options

The severity of tooth decay determines the course of treatment. 

  • Brush your teeth, after you wake up and before you go to sleep.
  • Use toothpaste containing fluoride.
  • Once a day, floss.
  • Using mouthwash containing fluoride at least thrice a day to prevent plaque.
  • For early detection of issues, schedule examinations with your dentist once or twice a year.
  • Consume nutritious foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean proteins are some of these.
  • Steer clear of additional sugary foods, particularly those found in some cereals, sweets, candies, and raisins.
  • If you smoke, give it up or minimise your usage.
  • Inquire about sealants and fluoride treatments from your dentist.

However you could require one or more treatments if the enamel has been completely destroyed by the deterioration. These could consist of:

  • A filling in case a cavity develops. 
  • A crown if your tooth is severely injured and the deterioration is severe. Part of your tooth is replaced with a crown, or cap.
  • A root canal if an infection has spread to the tooth’s pulp. A tooth’s diseased pulp is extracted.
  • Extraction (removal) of the tooth if the tooth’s root sustains significant damage. The dentist could use an implant or a bridge to replace the missing tooth.


There are foods that erode teeth more than others. The longer these foods remain on the surface of your teeth, the more acidic your mouth is, which promotes cavity formation. This triggers the onset of tooth decay, which damages the enamel over the course of five phases.

If tooth decay is not treated, it will eventually cause damage to your teeth and gums to the point where extraction of the affected tooth or root canal therapy will be your only option. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How is tooth decay identified?

Your dentist will inquire about any previous medical and dental issues you may have had. Your dentist will examine your teeth. To detect dental decay that is invisible to the naked eye, you could also have X-rays taken of your mouth and teeth.

2. Do adults or children have a higher risk of tooth decay?

Children are more likely than adults to experience tooth decay because the minerals in their newly formed teeth are still too weak to withstand the acids that bacteria can create.

3. Is it possible to reverse cavities?

Cavities can only be reversed during the initial phases of demineralization. Maintaining good dental hygiene is essential to replenishing lost minerals in your teeth and halting the advancement of disease.

Disclaimer: We recommend consulting a Doctor before taking any action based on the above shared information.


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