What Is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay occurs when plaque is allowed to buildup and cling to the tooth enamel. If plaque is not removed, it can combine with bacteria found in your mouth, forming acids that erode the enamel. Over time, the enamel becomes weak and a hole, or cavity, develops. Once a cavity forms, the layer underneath the enamel (dentin) becomes exposed and is susceptible to the spread of further decay. When bacteria are allowed access to the interior of your tooth, professional treatment may be necessary.

What Causes Teeth to Decay?

A common cause of tooth decay is lack of proper dental hygiene. If you don’t brush or floss your teeth, plaque and bacteria are not removed and remain on your teeth until damage is prevalent. Foods or drinks that are high in sugar and carbohydrates can lead to decay, as these fuel bacteria within the mouth. If you suffer from dry mouth, you may experience a lack in saliva. This can be harmful as saliva cleans the teeth by washing away food particles and bacteria within the mouth.  

How to Stop Tooth Decay in its Tracks

Tooth decay is not something you have to live with forever. Minor cases can be prevented through regular dental hygiene, along with dental checkups and cleanings. A dental filling may be necessary if a cavity has formed and affects the dentin. If the center, or pulp, of your tooth becomes infected, then a root canal treatment will be needed to rid the tooth of any infected tissue. If a tooth is severely damaged, then it may need to be extracted and replaced with a dental bridge or implant. 


Dr. Quinn Smith is a well-respected and highly experienced general, restorative, and family dentist in Grand Prairie, TX. He takes a patient-first approach that starts from the moment patients enter our Pecan Tree Dental office, and he offers a three-year guarantee on all dental work that he performs. Whether you and your family are new or returning patients, you can schedule a consultation or your next appointment with Dr. Smith by contacting us at (972) 262-5111.