You know it’s important to brush and floss regularly and get plenty of fluoride in order to maintain your beautiful smile, but has anyone told you what happens if you don’t?

The vague notion of “tooth decay” is too often filed away by dental patients as a thing that happens to other people — or at least, something that’s not that big of a deal.

The truth is that tooth decay can be a really serious situation, causing all sorts of fairly gross things to happen inside your mouth, leading to bad breath and ultimately, a lot of complicated dental procedures. Often, cavities are part of the first wave of signs things are going south with your teeth.

Mouth Bacteria and Cavities

When you have tooth decay, your enamel is slowly being dissolved by acids produced by bacteria that hang out in your mouth, just waiting for carbohydrates to eat. When carbohydrate-rich foods get stuck between your teeth, it’s buffet time. These little guys go to work, creating acid and plaque just for you.

All that acid starts to wear on your tooth enamel. When a tooth’s enamel is so worn that a spot opens up, the entire tooth is suddenly at risk. Instead of being protected from those acid-producing bacteria, the tooth may come under assault through the new crack in the armor. Those soft bits of tissue just under the enamel may start to die and rot, causing black areas in or on the affected tooth.

None of this is good.

If caught early, a cavity can be fixed quickly and with minimal time in the dental chair. In the past, fillings were made from easy to work metals, but today, we have much better options. Plastics and ceramics are frequently utilized to give the filling a natural look — no one would ever know you’d had a cavity filled unless you told them!

Signs of a Cavity

Seeing your dentist regularly is an important part of catching cavities early, but there are some signs that will make it very clear that something is going wrong in your mouth. Although more advanced cavities may appear as visible holes or pits in your teeth, most signs of cavities are less obvious to the outside world. These include:

  • Toothache. Having a regular toothache with no real cause is definitely a good reason to see the dentist.
  • Tooth sensitivity. Does your tooth hurt when you brush it? Is it just more sensitive than usual?
  • Pain when eating or biting down. Eating sweet, hot or cold food is one way to find your cavities, but sometimes even biting down is enough to make them scream.
  • Surface staining. Tooth staining is never great, it dampens your smile and affects how people see you. See a dentist for a cleaning and a check-up if you notice a problem.

Of course, some cavities are sneaky, silently getting worse and worse until there’s little left of the tooth. These are the worst case scenario, but they’re far from uncommon. If your cavities are left untreated, they start to act more like potholes in the road — they kind of weaken everything around them. And, like with a pothole, they’re often left until it’s impossible to simply fill the hole and save the tooth.

In those cases, a dental implant can be installed. They have come a really long way in the last few years. We have a 3D x-ray that helps us create a tooth that’s virtually identical to the one that’s been destroyed by major cavities. Usually, we can make a new tooth for you in just a few hours, instead of weeks like it would have taken in the past.

We Know Cavities, Inside and Out

No matter how bad the cavity, we have all the tools it takes to make it right fast! Those regular dental check-ups can help monitor changes in your mouth and unmask hidden problems. The last thing you want is to let dental problems go, they can cause pain when you’re eating, contribute to bad breath and even change the shape of your jaw!

Never fear! Drs. Krieger and Hur know what it takes to keep that smile bright, white and perfect.  Call the office today at 201-560-0606 or email us to schedule a check-up and tooth whitening. After all, everything goes better with a smile.