Tooth decay is caused by a build up of a filmy, sticky substance called plaque that coats the teeth and releases acid which erodes the protective enamel layer. This causes small holes called cavities to appear in the teeth allowing bacteria to penetrate to the sensitive inner area of the tooth. Inside the tooth is the dental nerve housed in a casing of a softer material called pulp. If bacteria gets into this part of the tooth it can cause an infection that will not only be painful but could result in the death and eventual loss of the tooth.
There are a number of other dental and wider health concerns that can arise as the result of tooth decay. For example, the body’s reaction to infection is to produce more white blood cells, which bombard the infected area. This can lead to a swelling, known commonly as a tooth abscess. This can be very sensitive and painful when exposed to hot and cold food. Abscesses can also rupture, releasing the infected matter into the mouth and spreading the infection to other teeth and even into the bloodstream, which can cause wider health problems.
All of these nasty complications can be avoided by taking better care of your teeth with brushing and flossing. Removing plaque at an early stage will limit the possibility of tooth decay occurring. However, once it has occurred, there are a number of treatment options available to Central Leeds dentists. This includes filling the cavities with composite bonding or attaching a dental crown to the top part of the tooth above the gum to offer a greater degree of protection.
More serious cases of decay may need a procedure called a root canal that aims to remove all traces of the infection from inside the tooth before sealing the tooth with a dental crown. In extreme cases, dentists may need to remove the whole tooth to prevent the infection spreading further if the tooth is beyond repair.