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Defending Against Tooth Decay

Post by : admin | 21 February 2024

What is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is the breakdown of teeth due to acids made by bacteria in the plaque that form on the tooth surface. Left untreated, it can lead to cavities (holes in the teeth), infections, and even tooth loss. This degradation process is a significant concern in dental health, highlighting the importance of early detection and management.

The signs

It can be hard to tell if you have tooth decay in the early stages as the process works insidiously over time. To help you detect tooth decay there are five main signs to look out for.


Toothache is pain around the teeth and jaw areas.  It is caused by dental caries (tooth decay). Toothache can range from slight discomfort to a severe sharp pain accompanied with a throbbing headache. Until you go to see your dentist takes over the counter pain killers to sooth the pain.

Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity or dentine hypersensitivity is when the nerves inside your teeth have a heightened reaction to environmental factors. This can be in the form of shooting pains and an intense stabbing pain. The teeth become especially sensitive to hot, cold and sweet drinks and foods. This symptom underscores the teeth’s vulnerability, necessitating a careful evaluation of oral health practices.

Bad Breath

Bad breath or halitosis is when an unpleasant smell comes from your mouth. This can be embarrassing and uncomfortable for both the person and the people around you. Bad breath can usually be eradicated with good oral hygiene unless decay is present. That being said, addressing bad breath involves a comprehensive approach to oral care, beyond just temporary solutions.

Unpleasant Taste

Do you find you are constantly brushing and reaching for the mouthwash, but still have that nasty taste lingering in your mouth?

This is one of the most obvious signals of tooth decay. Rather than being in increments (i.e. tooth sensitivity when eating ice cream) the lingering taste is constant and usually gets people running straight to the dentists for a solution.

Discolouring Spots

If you notice that you have black, brown or grey spots on your teeth you could have tooth decay. The staining could also be signs of other problems such as trauma, damage and staining. Either way you need to see your dentist as soon as possible for treatment (or a scale and polish for tea and coffee stains).

Treatment Options for Tooth Decay


When tooth decay leads to cavities, fillings are the most common treatment. The decayed material is removed, and the cavity is filled with a material such as amalgam or composite resin.

For more severe decay or weakened teeth, a crown might be necessary. This is a custom-fitted covering that replaces the tooth’s natural crown. As such, crowns represent a key option in preserving dental health while maintaining the tooth’s aesthetic appearance.

Root Canals

If decay reaches the tooth’s pulp (the central part containing nerves and blood vessels), a root canal may be required. This procedure involves removing the damaged pulp, cleaning the root canal, and sealing it to prevent further damage. This treatment is vital in saving the tooth and eliminating pain associated with pulp infection.

Tooth Extractions

In extreme cases where the tooth cannot be saved, extraction may be the only option. This is usually a last resort and is followed by discussions on tooth replacement options like implants or bridges.


Tooth decay is a preventable and treatable condition with the right care and precautions. By understanding its causes, taking proactive steps to prevent it, and seeking timely treatment, you can maintain a healthy smile for years to come. Remember, regular dental visits are crucial for detecting early signs of decay and receiving appropriate care, ensuring your teeth remain in top condition.

If you want to improve your smile please call us on 0208 399 4311

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