No one enjoys getting holes in their teeth. They can be painful, make it difficult to eat, difficult to clean food out of, and may affect your smile and therefore your confidence. Thanks to a better understanding of the tooth decay (caries) process however, nowadays we know that new holes can be completely prevented for most people. This is better for your health, and great for the budget!
Tooth decay is essentially an equilibrium reaction. On one side, there are factors which add fuel to the fire, and on the other side we can “pour water” to put the fire out. By controlling both sides of the fire of tooth decay, we can stop new holes forming, and even harden up soft areas.
Firstly, a quick rundown of how it appears on the tooth surface. The earliest sign of tooth decay is a white-spot lesion. When a tooth surface is dry, if there has been softening of the surface, it appears a chalky white as opposed to a lovely pearly white. The surface is softer, but it has not been breached. Still hope of preventing a hole.
Next it turns a yellowish-brown colour, as food and drink stains start to seep through the surface, which we call a brown-spot lesion. The tooth surface is getting softer, but still has not broken. Bacteria is still living on the outside of the tooth, so we still have a good chance to stop it getting worse.
If the decay process continues, at some point the surface will break, and bacteria will be able to enter the tooth. At this point, a filling of some kind is almost always required to stop the hole getting bigger.
Our next post will start to explain the various factors that add fuel or water to the fire of tooth decay, and how you can stop getting new holes, while still enjoying life with what you eat and drink. If you have noticed any white- or brown-spot lesions in your mouth, contact us to have them checked, and have a plan in place to stop them progressing into holes.
The information in these blog posts is based on the education, experience and opinion of our dentists, and applies generally to most people. You should always talk to your personal dentist for specific advice, especially in regards to any medical condition.
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