What is Dental Decay?

What is Dental Decay?

Dental decay (cavities, dental caries)  is an infectious process that involves plaque and bacteria.  Plaque is a film that is made up of mucous, bacteria and by-products of the food that you eat. It is a soft, fuzzy, and sticky substance that adheres to teeth and contributes to dental decay. The bacteria from one’s oral cavity combined with foods, such as those high in sugar, produce acid, which starts the decay process. The acid wears away the outer layer(enamel) of one’s tooth and if left, will continue into the inner layer called dentin. For the most part, there are no associated symptoms of dental decay. Dental decay most commonly occurs on surfaces in between teeth and along the biting surfaces.

There are a number of ways that one can limit the risk of tooth decay which include; practicing good oral hygiene at home, which includes brushing twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste, and flossing, decreasing the frequency of sugar intake and coming in for a dental examination twice a year. Dental X-rays are recommended once a year to check for decay in between your teeth. Dr. Tham will make the diagnosis based on the dental x-rays and a full examination and will make the appropriate recommendation.

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