Tooth Decay

What tooth decay is, how it begins, and why it should be treated

Tooth Decay progresses to cavities and leads to irreversible damage over time. Consult with your Dentist right away if you are aware your teeth are not in the best condition.

Tooth Decay

How Tooth Decay Begins

The hard, outer layer of your teeth is called enamel. Tooth decay is the destruction of your tooth enamel. It can be a problem for children, teens and adults.

Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, and it constantly forms on your teeth. Eating or drinking foods containing sugars feeds bacteria in your mouth, these bacteria produce plaque. The acidic nature of plaque is what destroys tooth enamel. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with your teeth and over time, and the enamel will break down further. Unaddressed, this destruction leads to irreversible damage in the form of cavities.

Tooth Decay Progresses to Cavities

Cavities are more common among children, but changes that occur with aging make cavities an adult problem, too. Recession of the gums away from the teeth, combined with an increased incidence of gum disease, can expose tooth roots to plaque. Tooth roots are covered with cementum, a softer tissue than enamel. They are susceptible to decay and are more sensitive to touch and to hot and cold. It’s common for people over age 50 to have tooth-root decay.

Tooth Decay Leads to Irreversible Damage Over Time

Decay around the edges, or a margin, of fillings is also common for older adults. Because many older adults lacked benefits of fluoride and modern preventive dental care when they were growing up, they often have a number of dental fillings. Over the years, these fillings may weaken and tend to fracture and leak around the edges. Bacteria accumulate in these tiny crevices causing acid to build up which leads to decay.