Put simply dental decay is basically a hole in the tooth. It results from bacteria expelling acids as waste products from the consumption of foods/sugars.
The process does not cause pain initially and often goes un-noticed or even manifests itself as mild sensitivity in the teeth. If the process progresses with time, the symptoms worsen from just sensitivity to even sensitivity to temperature changes/sweet/sour things until finally a constant severe throbbing ache results. This likely happens when the hole has progressed very close to the nerve or even into it!
This depends on the size of the cavity and the length of time it is left untreated. Small micro cavities once they penetrate the protective enamel layer will reach the sensitive layer of the tooth and progress to become bigger into the teeth as the sensitive layer is weaker than the outer layer.
Frank cavities means that the outer enamel protective is completely broken down and there’s now exposure of the inside of the tooth to the outside, meaning that there is now an open portal for bacteria to eat away at the nerve and cause infections that will travel from the nerve centre of the tooth to the underlying jaws. In some cases, these infections can spread along pathways that will result in serious fulminating facial abscesses that often will need hospitalisation to reliably manage.
Options that can be considered depends on the size and severity – if the decay is small and has not reached the critical barrier between the enamel and sensitive dentine layer, then it is possible to stop the process in its tracks with proper hygiene techniques and the application of special remineralisation agents. Choosing to place a filling material in these situations causes more destruction than good!
However for those frank cavities that haven’t reached the nerve centre of the tooth, remineralisation strategies won’t work, so we will need to place a filling of resin composite or a ceramic material if the defect size if really big. Once the nerve centre is breached and there is infection or the nerve is dying, then unfortunately the options are limited to extraction of the tooth or root-canal followed by a protective cap/crown placement.
Here are Epping High Dental, our priority is to understand your circumstances/situation better in order to give the appropriate advice for you needs. Fortunately, dental decay can often be detected sooner if 6 monthly visits are in place, keeping a good oral hygiene regime is important along with awareness of certain types of foods or beverages that may be doing more harm than good.