Tooth decay is caused by a combination of sugar, plaque over time. After eating sugar as a snack or in a drink bacteria feeds on the sugar on your teeth and forms a sticky film of plaque which produces acid. This plaque acid , if left unchecked, eats away first at the enamel of your teeth, then the dentine and finally the dental pulp inside. Symptoms include:
- Hot and cold sensitivity
- Bad breath
- Holes in the teeth: this occurs when tooth decay is advanced and occurs when the plaque acid dissolves the enamel and dentine of your tooth
- Toothache: Once the decay has dissolved the enamel and dentine of the tooth close to the nerve, pulp pain occurs and will become hard to ignore
- Broken teeth: This occurs when the decay has been left untreated and the tooth has been dissolved by the bacteria.
- Fillings: if your decay is in early stages, when only the outer enamel and some dentine is damaged, your dentist can remove the decay and then repair with a dental filling.
- Root canal treatment: if the decay has progressed into the dental pulp your dentist may have to perform root canal treatment, which involves removing all the infected pulp from inside your tooth and placing a filling inside the pulp space to prevent bacteria reinfecting the tooth.
Finally if your tooth has reached the broken stage it will most likely have to be removed or rootfilled to prevent the spread of infection to your other teeth. However, if it has been removed there are a number of options to replace your tooth, including dentures, bridges and dental implants.