How Tooth Decay Happens and How to Treat It


How Tooth Decay Happens and How to Treat It

  • The demineralization of tooth structures causes tooth decay due to bacteria, acids, and the tooth surface.
  • Poor oral hygiene, sugary and acidic foods and drinks, dry mouth, genetics, and lack of professional care can all contribute to tooth decay.
  • Treatment options may include tooth replacement, root canal treatment, or fillings.
  • Practicing good oral hygiene at home and regular dental check-ups are essential for preventing tooth decay.
  • Taking precautionary measures can help ensure that healthy teeth and gums last many years.

Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial to having healthy teeth and gums. Unfortunately, tooth decay can still occur even with regular brushing and flossing. Tooth decay happens when the enamel on your teeth breaks down, leading to cavities. Here’s a look into tooth decay, why they happen, and treatment options for you if you have severe tooth decay.

What is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities, is a common oral health problem caused by the demineralization of tooth structures. The interaction of bacteria, acids, and the tooth surface primarily influences it. It can be comorbid with other diseases such as diabetes, chronic dry mouth, and gum disease.

Why Does Tooth Decay Happen?

Tooth decay is caused by an accumulation of bacteria on the teeth. The bacteria form a film called plaque that feeds off food debris. As it breaks down these substances, acids are produced, which can demineralize tooth enamel, leading to decay. Here are some other reasons for it.

Poor Oral Hygiene

The most common cause of tooth decay is poor oral hygiene. Plaque builds up on your teeth because of saliva and other factors, leading to tooth decay. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth, and when it’s not removed, it produces acids that eat away at your teeth enamel.

Cola with straw

Sugary and Acidic Foods and Beverages

Foods and beverages high in sugar or acid can also lead to tooth decay. When you consume sugary or acidic foods and drinks, the bacteria in your mouth produce more acid, which increases the chances of developing cavities. Additionally, sugary and acidic drinks are often sipped slowly, increasing the time your teeth are exposed to sugar and acid.

Dry Mouth

A dry mouth is a common problem many people face, increasing the risk of tooth decay. Saliva neutralizes acids produced by bacteria and helps to wash away food particles. When there’s not enough saliva production, the buildup of plaque and bacteria can cause tooth decay. Certain medications, medical conditions, and lifestyle habits can cause dry mouth, so it’s essential to speak to your dentist if you experience this condition.


Genetics can also play a role in tooth decay. Some people have stronger teeth than others, and some are more prone to cavities due to the structure of their teeth. If your parents had poor dental health, you may also be more susceptible to tooth decay.

Lack of Professional Dental Care

Even with good oral hygiene practices at home, regular dental check-ups are essential to preventing tooth decay. Your dentist can identify early signs of decay and provide treatments to prevent further damage. Small cavities can become large without proper dental care, leading to more severe dental problems.

Treatment Options

Severe tooth decay can be problematic. Here are some treatment options meant to deal with it:

Tooth structure

Tooth Replacement

Severe tooth decay can lose you multiple teeth. This means you will need robust dental implants to replace them. These implants are made of titanium and are surgically implanted into the jawbone. The crowns are then placed on top, restoring your mouth’s natural look. It’s the most affordable and efficient option for treating the aftermaths of tooth decay.

Root Canal Treatment

Root canal therapy treats teeth with severe tooth decay that has reached the pulp. During this procedure, the diseased or infected pulp is removed from the root canals of a tooth and replaced with an artificial material called gutta-percha. This prevents further infection and restores the full function of the tooth.


Dentists will typically fill minor cavities with materials such as amalgam or composite resin. These fillings help restore teeth’ structure by filling in any cavity areas. Fillings also seal off the area from bacteria and prevent further damage.

Tooth decay is a common problem many faces, leading to serious dental problems if left untreated. It’s essential to practice good oral hygiene at home and have regular check-ups with your dentist so that cavities can be detected early and treated before they become severe. With the right measures, you can keep your teeth healthy and strong for years!

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