Tooth decay happens when sugar-digesting bacteria form an acid that softens the hard surfaces of the teeth. The sticky plaque keeps these acids in contact with your teeth, and over time, they break the enamel down. That softening of the enamel starts the beginnings of a cavity. If left untreated, they will get larger and cause damage to the teeth. Many other problems arise as a result of untreated decay, including infection and even tooth loss. For those reasons, we try to detect cavities as soon as possible to minimize tooth damage. Timely exams, cleanings, and preventive measures all help to achieve this goal.
Prevention of Tooth Decay
Use of fluoride treatments and dental sealants can help reduce the incidence of cavities, especially in children. This is very important, because tooth decay is the primary chronic disease in children. In fact, cavities are twice as prevalent as asthma, hay fever, and chronic bronchitis combined from ages 5-17 (National Institute of Health).
Fluoride helps the teeth resist the cavity forming acids produced by bacteria. It is beneficial for adults as well as children.
Dental sealants are a composite resin (plastic-like) material placed in the grooves of the chewing surfaces of teeth where most cavities begin. They help prevent the penetration of acid into the teeth and thus tooth decay.