Tooth decay is something that develops when oral bacteria makes acids that begin eating away at your tooth enamel. If tooth decay is not treated, it can lead to infection, pain and the loss of the tooth. The process of tooth decay begins long before you notice it, with damage to your tooth enamel and a steady progression to deeper parts of your tooth, ultimately winding up in the dental pulp. This is the softer part of your tooth containing nerves and a blood supply. Once tooth decay has progressed to this point, it will definitely be noticeable and quite painful.
Tooth decay can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
Poor Oral Hygiene
Oral hygiene includes not only regularly brushing your teeth, but flossing regularly. Failing to do this can lead to tooth decay. The tragic thing is that it is easily prevented by brushing your teeth at least twice daily, ideally after every meal and snack. Try to brush for a minimum of two minutes.
Sugary Foods and Drinks
Sugary foods and drinks are the best friends of oral bacteria that feed off of these substances, coating your teeth in damaging acids. This can occur very quickly after only one meal or snack, which is why you should be brushing your teeth to eliminate these acids and bacteria.
Acidic Foods and Beverages
Although most people think of soda when thinking of acidic substances, a wide variety of foods also contain acids. Even some types of fruit juice can contain acidic agents that can ultimately lead to tooth decay.
Dry Mouth Conditions
You may not realize it, but your saliva helps to slow the growth of bacteria and plaque. If you have a chronically dry mouth, you are not getting this protection. Dry mouth can be genetic, caused by certain medications, or due to medical problems like diabetes.
If you grind your teeth, you may not even be aware of it, since it typically happens during sleep. Teeth grinding can gradually wear away your tooth enamel and lead to the development of tooth decay. Wearing a mouth guard at night can help to prevent teeth grinding, as well as finding ways to lower your stress levels.
Causes of Tooth Pain
Tooth pain most often occurs due to the progression of tooth decay. Acidic substances found in plaque can eat away at your tooth enamel and allow for the entry of bacteria. Once this bacterial infection reaches the dental pulp, an abscess can develop, which is extremely painful.
Another common cause of tooth pain is tooth trauma. This can be caused by variety of reasons, like a sports injury, vehicle accident, or biting down on something hard that causes a tooth fracture or loosens a dental filling.
The Bottom Line
If you suspect that you are developing tooth decay, or are experiencing tooth pain, please reach out to our office right away so that we can provide immediate pain relief and recommend the appropriate treatment so that no further damage occurs to your tooth.
Maintaining your routine exams and cleanings help prevent many issues like pain and decay. Nonetheless, if you suspect tooth pain or decay, contact us. Our team is available and new patients are welcome.