Dental Decay (Cavities)

Dental decay occurs when teeth deteriorate due to food remnants in the mouth combined with saliva and bacteria, creating plaque. Plaque is a sticky substance that adheres to tooth surfaces and causes cavities.

Inadequate plaque removal through daily oral hygiene practices like brushing and flossing can cause it to harden and transform into tartar. An excessive buildup of tartar and plaque results in swollen gums and tooth decay.

This decay is commonly referred to as a cavity, and if neglected, it has the potential to develop into a dental abscess or infection.

At Black Point Dental, dental decay and cavities are just a few of the conditions that we treat with top-notch quality care. 

Signs of Tooth Decay and Cavities

The indicators of tooth decay can vary based on the affected area and the severity of the damage. Discomfort may not be present in the initial stages, which can make the progression difficult to detect.

Routine dental appointments for examinations and cleanings can aid in warding off dental deterioration. If any symptoms manifest, they might consist of the following:

  • Abrupt dental pain
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Discomfort while consuming hot or cold drinks
  • Discoloration on teeth
  • Noticeable cavities in the tooth
  • Persistent halitosis (bad breath)
  • Unappealing taste in the mouth

Causes of Dental Deterioration

Dental deterioration occurs when plaque build-up on the tooth's surface gradually wears down the enamel. Although plaque accumulation is a natural process, various factors can worsen the situation, such as:

  • Consuming a high-sugar diet (including soft drinks and sweets)
  • Tobacco use
  • Improper brushing techniques (either too aggressive or infrequent)
  • Inconsistent flossing habits

These factors can contribute to the development of dental decay and cavities. 

Factors Contributing to Tooth Decay and Cavities

Several elements can heighten the likelihood of experiencing tooth decay, including:

  • Tooth Position: The grooved surfaces and placement of molars and premolars make them more susceptible to cavity formation.
  • Life Stage: Both young children and older adults are at a greater risk for tooth decay. Inadequate supervision during flossing and brushing in children can increase the risk, while for older adults, tooth wear and receding gums can make teeth harder to clean and more exposed to decay.
  • Deteriorating Dental Restorations: Aging dental fillings, crowns, and bridges can become a breeding ground for plaque when they start to break down.
  • Acid Reflux: The presence of stomach acid in the mouth can result in tooth enamel erosion over time.
  • Disordered Eating: Conditions such as anorexia or bulimia can lead to tooth damage due to the presence of stomach acid in the mouth.
  • Infant Feeding Habits: Dental problems in young children may arise when teeth are not cleaned following nighttime feedings or when they are given sugary snacks or bottles before bed.

Diagnosing and Treating Tooth Decay

Your dentist will evaluate your overall health and examine your dental records during your dental appointment. They will then assess the condition of your teeth and gums, paying close attention to areas where decay might be present.

If any cavities are detected, your dentist will go over the various treatment options to address tooth decay. Seeking prompt assistance improves your chances of preventing further dental deterioration.

Depending on the severity of the decay, the most suitable treatment may include one or more of the following methods.

Fluoride Therapy

Fluoride therapy aids in enamel remineralization and reduces bacterial acid production. Fluoride is naturally present in water and can also be applied to your teeth through specialized toothpaste, gel, foam, varnish, and store-bought mouthwashes. Liquid or tablet supplements are also available.

Dental Fillings

A dental filling addresses cavities or holes in teeth. The decayed material is removed, the area is cleansed, and the void is filled. Various materials, including resin, silver amalgam, gold, or ceramic, can be used to fill the gap.

Dental Crowns

A dental crown is a custom-designed cap that covers a damaged or worn tooth. Its purpose is to preserve and restore the tooth's form, size, and strength. The crown is cemented in place, shielding the visible portion of the tooth up to the gumline.

Root Canal Therapy

A root canal procedure is performed when bacteria infect the nerves and soft tissue, or pulp, of the tooth. Removing the decayed tissue helps maintain the tooth's structure and averts tooth loss.

After thorough cleaning and disinfection, the dentist fills and seals the tooth with a rubber-like substance called gutta-percha. A crown or filling is then applied for added protection.

Tooth Removal

Tooth extraction involves the complete removal of a severely damaged or decayed tooth from its socket. If the decay cannot be repaired using fillings or crown attachments, your dentist may recommend this procedure.

Consequences of Neglected Tooth Decay

Allowing dental decay to persist without proper care can result in serious consequences, even for young ones. The potential problems that may arise include:

  • Tooth infection (abscess)
  • Difficulty in chewing food 
  • Compromised nutrition intake
  • Unintended weight reduction
  • Loss of teeth

Avoiding Tooth Decay

Establishing a consistent oral care regimen is essential for averting dental issues, such as cavities, tooth loss, and halitosis. Dr. Ferguson suggests the following practices to maintain good dental health:

  1. Clean your teeth twice a day, employing the correct method.
  2. Gently brush your tongue during your oral care routine.
  3. Make dental flossing a twice-daily habit.
  4. Steer clear of high-sugar treats.
  5. Rinse or brush your mouth after consuming coffee or using tobacco products to minimize discoloration.
  6. Opt for toothpaste containing fluoride.
  7. Consider dental sealants for children's teeth as a preventive measure.

Dental Decay Treatment in Honolulu, HI

Black Point Dental offers multiple treatment options for dental decay, such as fluoride treatment, dental crowns, fillings, and root canals.

Dr. Patrick Ferguson and the Black Point Dental team can handle all your dental needs.

Take the first step towards better oral health and a pain-free smile by scheduling a consultation with Dr. Ferguson at Black Point Dental in Honolulu, HI. Call us at (808) 955-5922 or request an appointment online today. 

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