tooth decay imTooth Decay or caries is defined as cavity formation in teeth caused by bacteria that attaches to the teeth and forms acid in the presence of sucrose, other sugar, and refined starches. Dental caries are very common; there are more than 3 million cases per year. Caries usually occur on children and young adults but it can happen at any age.


Tooth decay occurs when bacteria forms acid that eat the tooth away. This can leave a hole in your tooth known as cavity.

Symptoms for caries usually begin when the caries hasn’t been taken care of for a long period of time, or when there is an infection. There are a few symptoms you may experience if you have caries. Your tooth may start to change into a darker color; brown, yellow, or black. Pulsing or pain on tooth is another symptom; this tends to happen at night when you are resting. It also can be a sign that the cavity is affecting the nerve. Bad breathe or swelling of your tooth can also be a symptom.

There are a few ways to treat a cavity; this all depends on how long the cavity has been left untreated. The most common way to treat a cavity is by doing a dental filling. They clean the caries out and the doctor decides what type of filling material is used. Another way to treat the cavity is by placing a crown on your tooth. This happens when the cavity is affecting a large portion of the crown of the tooth. They remove all affected part of the tooth and then place a buildup material that gives the tooth some shape. Its then prep to a stump and they take an impression of your tooth send it to the lab where the final restoration will be made.

You go home with a temporary crown while your crown is being fabricated. If the cavity is affecting the nerve a procedure called root canal is needed. The root canal treatment is when they remove diseased tissue from the pulp chamber. It is then replaced with a special material called gutta percha. After root canal is finished they begin with the preparation of a crown for that tooth. If the caries is untreated and it affects the root of your teeth the only treatment would be to extract the tooth. The prognosis to restore a tooth that has cavity in the root is every low.

The best way to prevent caries is by brushing and flossing daily at least twice a day. This will remove all plaque and bacteria left in the mouth from food debris. Avoid sugary or sweet foods, drinks or candy. If sugar is left on your teeth for a long time it can damage the tooth. For kids, don’t put them to sleep with bottle this can cause baby bottle decay. Schedule regular dental exams and cleanings. If you have any question regarding caries you can consult with your friendly staff in Smiles on Bristol Dentistry.