Tooth decay is one of the most common afflictions that can befall human teeth. In fact, 90% of adults in America have had at least one cavity in their permanent teeth, and cavities remain the most wide-spread chronic disease among school-aged children. Nevertheless, tooth decay is not an inevitable occurrence. With proper care and routine maintenance, your teeth can remain healthy and strong for a lifetime. Unfortunately, tooth decay is extremely common because of the ease with which it can set in, despite your best efforts to prevent it. To help you strengthen your defense against the silent epidemic, Miami dentist Dr. Arun Garg explains how tooth decay progresses to destroy your entire tooth.
Enamel Erosion, the Precursor to Decay
Your body is an interesting machine that is built to protect itself against harm. For instance, your teeth, which are responsible for biting, chewing, and grinding your food into easily digestible portions, are protected by the strongest substance that your body produces. In fact, the only earthly substance stronger than tooth enamel is diamond. While tough, however, tooth enamel is subject to erosion, which can render it useless and leave your tooth vulnerable if not treated. Dental plaque, the uncomfortable, sticky stuff that sometimes adheres to your teeth, contains certain oral bacteria that tend to consume sugar and other carbohydrates from your diet. After consumption, these germs convert the carbs into lactic acid, which weakens your tooth enamel and prevents it from recovering by depleting your teeth of essential minerals. This erosion can leave tiny holes in the surface of your enamel where bacteria can gather and continue to attack your teeth. When enamel fails, your tooth becomes exposed to detrimental bacteria, and decay soon infects your tooth’s main structure.
Feasting on Your Tooth’s Structure
Directly underneath your tooth enamel lays the main part of your tooth, called dentin. Softer than enamel, dentin is porous, and the tiny tubules across its surface send sensory information to the nerves at your tooth’s center. Tooth sensitivity often occurs as a result of bacterial infection reaching this layer. If left untreated, tooth decay will progress, consuming tooth structure on its way to the pulp, where nerves and blood vessels are bundled together and normally protected at the center of your tooth. When caught early, enamel erosion can typically be reversed and tooth decay prevented. Often, however, decay is not caught until it has progressed enough to cause discomfort. At this point, a procedure may be necessary to remove the decayed tooth tissue and prevent the infection from spreading. Dr. Garg may recommend a white, composite resin dental filling to reinforce the tooth after a part of it has been removed. If the decay is severe, a root canal procedure may be required.
Treat Tooth Decay in Miami
To learn more about tooth decay, schedule a consultation with your Miami general dentist. Contact the Center for Complete Dentistry by calling 305-935-4991, or visit our website to schedule your appointment online. Located in the 33180 area, we proudly serve patients from Miami, Highland Lakes, North Miami Beach, and the surrounding communities.