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What is Tooth Decay?


Diagram of a tooth with a cavity caused by tooth decay used by Anchorage dentist at Anchorage Dental Associates.Tooth decay is the softening of your tooth enamel. This is caused by the erosion of acids produced by plaque and bacteria. These acids eat away at your tooth enamel, causing mineral loss. Without treatment, decay can lead to the formation of a small pit in your tooth, also known as a cavity. Cavities continue to grow larger the longer they go untreated and can compromise the strength of the affected tooth as well as your oral health. If you have developed tooth decay, Anchorage Dental Associates can help.

Causes of Tooth Decay


There are several issues that can lead to tooth decay. These include:
•  Poor oral hygiene practices. Even occasionally skipping out on brushing, flossing, or routine dental visits can significantly increase your risk.
•  Smoking and other tobacco products. These products make plaque stickier.
•  Dry mouth. This occurs when there is not enough saliva in your mouth. This creates an ideal environment for plaque and bacterial growth.
•  What you eat and drink. While sugar is not the direct cause of cavities, they do feed plaque in your mouth. Eating and drinking sugary foods or a significant amount of carbohydrates, which break down into sugars, can increase your risk because bacteria are provided with more food.

Symptoms of Decay and Cavities


As decay develops, your tooth enamel weakens. This leads to the formation of a white spot on your tooth. As it continues to progress, you may begin to notice symptoms of cavity formation. These symptoms include:
•  Tooth pain.
•  Tooth sensitivity, particularly when eating sweet, hot, or cold items.
•  Noticeable pits in your teeth.

How is Tooth Decay Treated?


The early stages of decay are reversible. You can reverse tooth decay by improving your oral hygiene routine and using a fluoridated toothpaste. We can also help to reverse early decay with topical fluoride treatments.
If tooth decay has developed into a cavity, the damage is irreversible. It can get worse the longer it goes untreated. Treatments for cavities depend upon their severity and include:
•  Fillings. This is the most common treatment for a cavity. Cavities can be filled with amalgam or composite resin.
•  Inlays and onlays. Inlays and onlays are indirect fillings used to treat cavities in the chewing surfaces of your molars.
•  A dental crown. For more significant decay, a filling can put the tooth at risk for serious damage. In cases such as these, a crown is necessary.
•  Root canal therapy. Root canal therapy is needed if an infection develops inside of the tooth.

Preventing Tooth Decay


There are things that you can do to prevent the formation of tooth decay. One of the biggest things that you can do is maintain a good oral hygiene routine. You should brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Use a fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash. You should have your teeth professionally cleaned and examined twice a year. Also, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and limit your consumption of sweets and carbohydrates.

The earlier tooth decay is detected, the easier it is to treat. If you suspect tooth decay in your tooth, call Anchorage Dental Associates at (907) 885-3666 to schedule your appointment today.
Anchorage Dental Associates's accepts Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, United Concordia Dental, Delta Dental, Aetna, Moba Health, Cigna, Tricare and Medicaid insurance providers

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