Food particles left behind after we eat and deposits of plaque attract bacteria which ferment and gradually eat at the various layers of tissue that make up human teeth. Most know the consequences of bacterial infection of the tooth as a cavity or tooth decay. In the medical community, this phenomenon is known as dental caries. While cavities can be easily treated if caught early enough, once the damage is significant and extensive the infected teeth may no longer be salvageable. In these cases, dental implants can be an ideal solution because they come closest to matching the look, feel, and function of real teeth.
Basics of Tooth Decay
When we look at our teeth in the mirror we typically see what looks like what bone. This is actually enamel and it makes up just one layer of the tooth. Interestingly, enamel is one of the hardest tissues in the human body, largely because it is also the most highly mineralized. As one moves deeper into the tooth, the enamel is backed by a layer of dentin, which is a calcified tissue and is also highly mineralized. Less brittle than enamel, dentin helps keep the layer on top of it strong and healthy, which helps to protect your teeth from damage. Beneath the dentin is the pulp and this layer contains the tooth’s nerves and odontoblasts, which regenerate the dentin tissue.
Tooth decay can spread deeper and deeper into the tooth, systematically affecting each consecutive layer of tissue as the condition worsens. That’s why it’s important to keep a clean mouth. Brushing daily and using mouth wash will help kill threatening bacteria and will also assist in scraping off accumulations of plaque. If tooth decay is allowed to persist, however, treating it becomes progressively more difficult. At first, a cavity can be treated with porcelain filler, but more extensive decay may necessitate a root canal. If the damage is too significant and too widespread, the tooth or teeth may no longer be able to function properly and they may need to be extracted.
If the tooth decay is pervasive, dental implants are the preferred solution. Unlike removable dentures and dental bridges, implants can last a lifetime and are easy to maintain. Furthermore, dental implants are stronger than the alternatives, meaning they won’t sacrifice your bite strength. Another benefit, which speaks to tooth decay, is that implants are easy to keep clean, allowing you to worry less about the accrual of food debris and plaque around your permanent dental prosthesis which can damage adjacent natural teeth. In fact, many of our Ft. Lauderdale, FL patients who originally opted for removable dentures find the discomfort and inconvenience too great and they quickly come back to Bayview Smiles to have dental implants placed instead.
Tooth Decay: Early Warning Signals
Some signs of tooth decay that you can look out for include:
- Pain while drinking or eating sweet foods and products
- Tooth sensitivity to temperature changes
- Pit formation on the surface of the tooth
- Swelling of the gums near the infected tooth
- Chronic bad breath
- White, gray, brown, or black spots on your teeth
Inadequate oral hygiene is a major contributor to tooth decay. It’s important to brush at least two times a day and flossing daily is highly recommended. Also encouraged are routine dental checkups at Bayview Smiles in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Dr. Fenton can clean off plaque sediments, helping to keep harmful bacteria away by removing the scaffolding they need to wear down your various tissues that make up your teeth.
Maintain Your Oral Health in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Tooth decay can be easily treated at Bayview Smiles if caught early. However, the longer the decay is allowed to persist, the more complicated the necessary procedure will be. If the tissue loss is too extensive then the affected teeth may no longer be salvageable. Dental implants are the premier tooth loss treatment and provide a completely natural-looking solution to irreparably decayed teeth. To learn more about tooth decay and dental implants, contact our Ft. Lauderdale, FL office to schedule your no-obligation consultation with Dr. Fenton today!