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(704) 978-7060

1316 Davie Ave, Suite A
Statesville, NC 28677-3561

Tooth Decay
Statesville, NC

 Translucent model of teeth showing red roots of a decaying tooth. Tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities, is basically when the outer surface of your teeth gets damaged by acids created by bacteria in your mouth. It can happen when you eat too many sugary treats or neglect your brushing and flossing routine.

Even the most diligent brushers and flossers can still succumb to tooth decay. That's where regular dental checkups come in. Your dentist can catch cavities early on before they become a bigger problem.

Tooth Decay Causes

•  Poor Oral Hygiene: Insufficient flossing or brushing allows plaque to gather on the teeth. Plaque produces acids that weaken tooth enamel, leading to decay.
•  Dry Mouth: Reduced saliva production, often caused by medications, certain medical conditions, or mouth breathing, can increase susceptibility to tooth decay.
•  Bacteria: Streptococcus mutans and other bacteria naturally present in the mouth feed on sugars from food and beverages, producing acids as a byproduct. These acids gradually erode the enamel, leading to decay.
•  Poor Fluoride Exposure: Insufficient fluoride intake, inadequate use of fluoridated dental products, or living in areas with low fluoride levels in water can increase tooth decay risk.
•  Dietary Factors: Consuming sugary or starchy foods and beverages, especially those high in carbohydrates, provides fuel for bacteria in the mouth to produce acids, which increases tooth decay risk.
•  Acidic Foods and Beverages: Consuming acidic foods and beverages, such as citrus fruits and carbonated drinks, can weaken tooth enamel and make it more prone to decay.
•  Genetics: Genetic factors can influence the composition and structure of tooth enamel, affecting its susceptibility to decay. Some people might inherit weaker enamel, making them more prone to cavities.

Tooth Decay Symptoms

•  Tooth Sensitivity: Sensitivity to hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages can be an early sign of tooth decay. It occurs when the protective enamel is compromised, exposing the underlying dentin and nerve endings.
•  Toothache: Persistent or intermittent toothaches, ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain, can indicate advanced tooth decay. The pain may worsen with biting or chewing and may be accompanied by swelling or pus around the affected tooth.
•  Visible Pits or Holes: As tooth decay grows, it may cause visible changes in the affected teeth. Small holes, pits, or dark spots on the tooth surface are signs of cavities.
•  White Spots: Early-stage decay may manifest as white spots or chalky areas on the teeth's surface. These areas indicate demineralization of the enamel and serve as warning signs of potential cavities.
•  Bad Breath: Persistent bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth can result from accumulating bacteria and food particles in cavities or between teeth.
•  Discoloration: Tooth decay causes discoloration or staining of the affected teeth, ranging from white, yellow, or brown spots to black areas.
•  Pain While Chewing: Discomfort or pain while chewing or biting down may indicate the presence of cavities or other dental problems.

Progression of Tooth Decay

Stage 1: Demineralization

The initial tooth decay stage involves the demineralization of the enamel, which is the tooth's hard, protective outer layer. When plaque accumulates on the tooth surface, the bacteria metabolize sugars and carbohydrates from food particles, producing acids as byproducts. These acids gradually dissolve the minerals, such as calcium and phosphate, from the enamel, weakening its structure.

Stage 2: Enamel Decay

As the demineralization progresses, the enamel becomes porous and more susceptible to decay. Acidic byproducts continue to erode the enamel, creating holes or small cavities in the tooth surface.

Stage 3: Dentin Decay

Tooth decay proceeds into the dentin, the softer layer of the tooth beneath the enamel. It contains microscopic tubules that connect to the nerves, making the decay process more painful and noticeable. Bacteria and acids penetrate deeper into the tooth structure, causing more extensive damage.

Stage 4: Pulp Involvement

At this stage, tooth decay reaches the tooth's innermost layer, known as the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue, and when it becomes inflamed or infected due to decay, it can cause potential complications and severe pain, such as abscess formation.

Stage 5: Abscess Formation

An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms at the root of the tooth or in the surrounding gum tissue due to a bacterial infection. It is a serious complication of untreated tooth decay and can cause swelling, severe pain, and systemic health issues if not promptly treated by a dentist.

Stage 6: Tooth Loss

If tooth decay is allowed to progress unchecked, it can ultimately lead to losing the affected tooth. This can occur due to extensive damage to the tooth structure, compromised tooth stability, or extraction performed to alleviate pain and prevent further infection.

Treatment for Tooth Decay

Treatment for tooth decay depends on the severity of the condition. In its early stages, tooth decay can often be addressed with preventive measures and minor interventions. However, if left untreated, it can progress to more serious stages requiring more invasive treatments.

Restorative Treatments

•  Dental Fillings: When decay has progressed beyond the early stages, a dentist may need to remove the tooth's decayed portion and fill the cavity with filling material, like amalgam, composite resin, gold, or porcelain.
•  Inlays and Onlays: For larger cavities or those on the chewing surfaces of molars, inlays or onlays may be recommended. These are custom-made restorations fabricated in a dental laboratory and bonded to the tooth.
•  Dental Crowns: If a significant tooth's portion is decayed or damaged, a dental crown may be placed to restore its strength, shape, and function.
•  Root Canal Therapy: If the decay impacts the pulp, it can cause infection and inflammation, leading to toothache and abscess. Root canal therapy involves cutting the infected pulp, shaping the root canal, and closing it with amalgam or another filling material.
•  Extraction: In cases where tooth decay is extensive and irreparable, extraction might be necessary to prevent the spread of infection and preserve oral health.

Surgical Treatments

•  Gum Grafting: Advanced tooth decay can lead to gum recession and exposure of the tooth roots. Gum grafting surgery may be performed to cover the exposed roots with tissue from another area of the mouth, protecting the teeth and improving aesthetics.
•  Bone Grafting: Severe tooth decay can also result in bone loss around the affected teeth. Bone grafting procedures may be necessary to rebuild the bone and provide a stable foundation for dental implants or other restorations.

It's important to note that prevention is always better than cure when it comes to tooth decay. Practicing good oral hygiene, making healthy dietary choices, and attending regular dental checkups can help prevent decay and maintain optimal oral health. If you suspect you have tooth decay or are experiencing symptoms such as toothache, sensitivity, or visible holes in your teeth, visit Jon C. Packman, DDS, to seek prompt dental care to prevent further damage and preserve your smile. For more information, call (704) 978-7060.


(704) 978-7060


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Jon C. Packman DDS
1316 Davie Ave Suite A
Statesville, NC 28677-3561
Jon C. Packman DDS | | (704) 978-7060
1316 Davie Ave Suite A, Statesville, NC 28677
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Tooth Decay | Dentist Statesville, NC | Jon C. Packman, DDS
Our team at Jon C. Packman DDS can remove tooth decay and restore the tooth. Click here to find out more about how our dentist in Statesville, NC can help today!
Jon C. Packman DDS, 1316 Davie Ave Suite A, Statesville, NC 28677 ^ (704) 978-7060 ^ ^ 7/11/2024 ^ Associated Words: dentist Statesville NC ^