At Tran Family Dentistry & Associates, our primary focus is ensuring our patients maintain a beautiful and healthy smile. One way to accomplish this goal is preventing, diagnosing, and treating tooth decay. Tooth decay, along with gum disease, are two of the most common dental problems in America today.
What Causes Tooth Decay and Gum Disease?
Both tooth decay and gum disease are caused by harmful bacteria in our mouths. This bacteria feed found in plaque, the sticky biofilm that forms on our teeth. When plaque is allowed to build up, this bacteria flourishes and wreaks havoc on your oral health.
The bacteria in plaque feeds of starches, sugars, and other simple carbohydrates we consume. As the feed, they produce acids that attack the outer layer of the tooth, known as enamel. The damage that occurs as a result of these acids is called tooth decay.
Gum disease is an infection of the periodontal tissues indirectly caused by this same bacteria. In response to these pathogens, our immune system produces toxins that affect healthy tissues as well. Ultimately, this infection will spread to the connective ligaments and underlying bone, resulting in irreparable damage or tooth loss.
Routine Exams and Cleanings
Besides daily oral hygiene, routine exams and cleanings are two of the best ways to prevent tooth decay. During your exam, Dr. Tran will check your teeth, gums, jaws, and other maxillofacial structures for any potential problems, including tooth decay and gum disease. During your cleaning, our dental hygienist will use a special hand tool, known as an ultrasonic scaler, to eliminate plaque, tartar (calcified plaque), and bacteria deposits from the surfaces of your teeth above and below the gumline.
We typically recommend scheduling a routine appointment twice a year, about every six months. Catching tooth decay in its earliest stage allows us to provide safer, less expensive, and more effective treatment. Better yet, preventing these problems can help you avoid restorative treatment altogether.
When Is an Extraction Necessary?
We will always try to save or preserve a damaged or decayed tooth with restorative dentistry. In some cases, unfortunately, this may not be possible. If you have a tooth that is too damaged or decayed for restoration, an extraction may be the ideal solution.
During the extraction of a severely decayed tooth, we use local anesthetic to numb the area and eliminate discomfort. Next, we use a hand tool, known as an “elevator,” to separate the tooth from the connective ligaments, gum tissue, and underlying bone. Once the tooth is loose enough, we will remove it using a pair of forceps.
The type of restoration we recommend depends on the extent of your decay. A dental filling, usually made from composite resin, is one of the most common restorations available today. Composite can be shaped, textured, and colored to match the appearance of the surrounding enamel.
Larger areas of decay may constitute the use of an inlay, onlay, or full-coverage dental crown. These types of restorations are often made from porcelain, due to the material’s aesthetic value and durability. Your porcelain crown, inlay, or onlay will be virtually indistinguishable from your natural teeth.
If you need an extraction, we may recommend one of several tooth replacement options. After a brief healing period, replacing a missing tooth can help prevent many secondary issues, and restore the function and cosmetics of your smile. The most popular options include fixed bridges, partial dentures, and implant-supported restorations.
Schedule Your Appointment
Don’t let tooth decay affect your oral health! Call (206) 212-0394 to schedule your appointment today!