Tooth Decay

Also known as dental cavities represent a breakdown of tooth structure. It appear as a chalky white, yellow, brown or black holes or pits on the tooth surface. Cavities may also develop along the gum line and around the edges of old fillings.

Other Symptoms may include mild or sharp pain while eating or drinking something sweet, hot, or cold; toothache; tooth sensitivity and pain when biting down.

Dental cavities are caused by a sticky colourless film of bacteria known as “plaque”. If left uncleaned plaque slowly builds up on the tooth surface destroying its hard outer shell called “enamel”. Acid in plaque removes minerals from the enamel resulting in cavity formation.

Once areas of enamel are worn away, the bacteria and acid can reach the next layer of your tooth, called “dentin”. If left untreated decay extends to the inner tooth material (pulp) that contains nerves and blood vessels. At this stage the pulp becomes swollen resulting in severe toothache, sensitivity, and pain on biting.

In its most severe form tooth decay may lead to an infection and abscess formation. An abscess is a pocket of pus that is usually accompanied with fever. This is a very serious condition that requires immediate dental attention to stop the spread of infection.

Our dentists will replace the lost tooth structure using fillings made from various materials (e.g., composite resins, porcelain) that restore the function and shape of the tooth. Extensive tooth decay however may require root canal treatment to remove the source of infection followed by a crown. If the damage is too severe the tooth may need to be extracted.

Regular dental exams and x-rays help our dentists detect when “enamel” begins to soften before a cavity develops. Our dentist may then use sealant or a fluoride rinse to help prevent dental decay from developing in the first place.

Learn more about restorative treatment options
Learn more about crowns and bridges
Learn more about root canal treatment