Thorough and consistent homecare can help keep tooth decay at bay. But do you know how tooth decay begins and progresses? Read below as your Erlanger KY dentist, Dr. Darlene Henry, discusses the progression of tooth decay.

Bacteria: The Beginning

Tooth decay is ultimately caused by certain bacteria in the mouth. These harmful bacteria create an acid byproduct when they feed on sugar in the mouth, and the acid they produce is capable of wearing down tooth enamel. Additionally, bacteria will adhere to teeth, creating plaque (a clear, sticky film) and tartar (hardened plaque). Once attached to teeth, the bacteria are difficult to remove, and they also begin to do damage to a concentrated area. As more and more damage is done, a cavity may develop, indicating a serious weakness in the tooth that requires dental care.

Cavities and Beyond

When a cavity develops, the tooth can be strengthened with a dental filling. When placing a dental filling, your Erlanger KY dentist, Dr. Henry, first removes the decayed material of the tooth and then fills the cavity with a tooth-colored composite resin that strengthens the tooth and prevents further decay. The composite resin is durable and offers a nice cosmetic result because of its natural color.

If, however, a cavity does not receive treatment, decay may continue until the bacteria reach the tooth’s pulp (the innermost, nerve-filled portion). Should bacteria reach the pulp, infection is likely, and the tooth is in peril of dying. It is, therefore, important that root canal treatment is performed to remove the infected pulp and fill the tooth against further decay and infection. Otherwise, tooth loss may be inevitable.

Schedule a Visit with Your Erlanger KY Dentist

Regular dental visits can help maintain your oral health. If more than six months have passed since your last dental cleaning, contact our 41018 dentist office at 859-344-8500 to schedule an appointment with your Erlanger KY dentist, Dr. Henry, today. We serve patients from Erlanger, Cincinnati, Crestview Hills, Fort Mitchell, Florence, Union, Independence, and Taylor Mill.