Many parents do not realize that their children suffer from a chronic illness, but the fact is that tooth decay is the number one chronic disease among school-aged children in the United States. The numbers only grow more alarming as the age is increased, and over 90% of adults have had at least one cavity in their permanent teeth. To dispel the myths surrounding this epidemic, Polk City dentist Dr. Ryan Hussong explores the decaying of a tooth.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
While sugar is the common scapegoat for cavity formation, it is only a part of the equation. The real instigator is acid, which is produced when the bacteria in dental plaque consume refined sugars and ferment able carbohydrates from your diet. This acid weakens your tooth enamel, which protects the crowns of your teeth. While enamel is your body’s strongest substance, it is also susceptible to acid erosion. Enamel cannot regenerate itself if damaged, but when weakened, it can acquire minerals, like calcium and phosphate (which comprise tooth enamel), to strengthen it. This process is called remineralization. Unfortunately, as acid weakens your enamel it also saps essential minerals from your tooth (demineralization), making remineralization difficult, if not impossible. This process continues until enamel is too weak to repel bacteria, which then enter and infect the inner structure of your tooth.
How Do You Treat Tooth Decay?
Treating tooth decay depends on its severity. If the infection has only reached the dentin (the tissue underneath tooth enamel), then removing the decayed tissue and replacing it with a dental filling may halt the infection. If a significant amount of tissue has to be removed, your dentist may reinforce the remaining tooth structure by covering it with a dental crown. In severe cases tooth decay, where the infection has reached the center of the tooth (pulp), a root canal procedure may be required to save the tooth. Sometimes, the tooth may not be beyond saving, in which case extraction is necessary.
To learn more about plaque control, schedule a consultation with your Polk City dentist by calling Cornerstone Dental at (515) 984-6001. We serve families from Des Moines, Polk City, Ames, Ankeny, Alleman, Bondurant, Grimes, Johnston, and the surrounding communities.