don’t' wait if you need tooth decay treatment - colgate sg

If You Need Tooth Decay Treatment, Don't Wait

“It can wait.”That’s what you may be thinking (to yourself) after you’ve learned from your dentist that you have a cavity. The truth is (and we know your dentist will agree), it can’t wait.

Tooth decay doesn’t get better. It only gets worse. Here’s why you should take care of that cavity sooner than later.

The Start of Tooth Decay

It all begins innocently enough. You don’t even know it’s happening. You eat something. Then, bacterial plaque forms on your teeth and uses the food you ate to create acids. These acids slowly break down the hard enamel covering your teeth. The decay penetrates through your tooth layers. And, voila. You have a cavity.

Signs and Severity of Tooth Decay

At first, you won’t even notice you have a cavity. After all, you can’t see a cavity. And at this stage, it won’t hurt.

However, once the decay makes it through your tooth's enamel and reaches the dentine layer, "Ouch"! You’ll know it. Your dentine is made up of tiny nerve endings sensitive to hot, cold, sweet, sticky and sour foods. It may also be uncomfortable when you’re biting down or chewing. That’s because food is getting trapped between your teeth.

Decay spreads fast through dentine because it’s much softer than your tooth enamel. Root decay happens quickly too. That’s why your pain will become more severe and frequent.

If the decay and bacteria reach the pulp portion (nerves and blood vessels) of your tooth, you’ll get an infection known as an abscess. According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), an abscess is a localised collection of pus, which, if left uncontrolled, can spread to become facial infections. Symptoms of an abscess can include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Fever
  • Gum redness
  • A bad taste in your mouth
  • Pus drainage

Tooth Decay Treatment

Your treatment will match the extent of the decay. If your dentist catches the problem early – a small area of enamel erosion before it reaches the dentine – a repair treatment may be recommended, which may even be done at home. Mouth rinses, toothpastes, or filling materials that contain fluoride, calcium and phosphates may be your solution. These would be thought of as early decay cavity prevention treatments.

If you've developed a small cavity, it can be repaired with an amalgam filling (made of silver and other metals) or tooth-coloured resin. If the cavity is large and your tooth has lost structure, your dentist may decide that you need a crown. Crowns are more expensive than fillings, but they strengthen your tooth and restore shape and function.

If your tooth is abscessed, your dentist will focus on reducing pain and limiting infection first with some immediate procedures. Then, after the acute infection has subsided, you may be referred to an endodontist to save your tooth with root canal.

Here's more information from MOH on what you can expect. After root canal treatment, teeth can become more brittle and break easily. If you've lost a lot of tooth structure due to decay, your dentist may also recommend a crown for your tooth.

If your tooth cannot be saved with a root canal, your dentist will need to extract it.

Listen to your dentist. Catching and treating decay today will keep you out of the endodontist’s chair tomorrow. Regular dental appointments and good oral hygiene care at home, including brushing and flossing between your teeth, may keep you smiling and cavity-free even longer.