Barry H. Buchanan, DDS logo

What Is Tooth Decay?

looking at dental x-raysTooth decay is damage to the surface of your tooth. It may lead to cavities, tooth infections, or even total loss of your teeth. It’s a very common problem, yet many people don’t realize they have tooth decay until it’s too late to save the tooth. This guide helps patients spot tooth decay early or even prevent tooth decay entirely.

What Are the Signs of Tooth Decay?

If you have tooth decay, you probably don’t even know it. That’s because the signs and symptoms usually aren’t obvious until you have a cavity or infection.

Signs of a cavity or tooth infection are more obvious, but you will need a dentist to treat these concerns. Look for:

  • Tooth pain
  • Tooth sensitivity when eating cold or hot foods or drinking beverages
  • Facial swelling, especially in your cheek or jaw area
  • Fever
  • Signs of an abscessed tooth (e.g., a throbbing headache or bad breath)

How to Prevent Tooth Decay

The best way to prevent tooth decay is with routine oral care and hygiene, including dental examinations. You should brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss every day. Visit a dentist for routine checkups and more thorough cleanings, too.

Treatment for Tooth Decay

If you develop tooth decay or a cavity, your dentist may use one of the following treatments.

  • Fluoride treatment: This is only used for very mild cases of tooth decay. It helps the tooth repair itself and prevents further decay.
  • Filling: A filling is the standard treatment for moderate tooth decay (aka cavities). The dentist removes the damaged area then fills it with a filling material.
  • Root canal: A root canal is for more severe cases of tooth decay. The process is similar to a filling, but more of the tooth is removed. The roots and tooth are cleaned, then a temporary filling is placed until a more permanent filling (or crown) can be fitted.
  • Extraction: If the tooth decay is too severe for a root canal, your dentist may recommend a tooth extraction. In this case, dentists usually recommend a bridge or implant to replace the tooth.

Schedule a Dental Exam in Dallas

If you need a dentist in Dallas, you can schedule an appointment for a dental cleaning and examination. We can ensure your teeth are thoroughly cleaned and free of health issues like tooth decay and cavities.

Content found on this blog is intended for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional judgement, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please speak with a professional if you have concerns about your oral health.