Tooth loss can leave large gaps in your teeth which can be difficult to clean. These areas of the mouth can be especially prone to the undue accumulation of bacteria and plaque, leading to dental infections like tooth decay and gum disease. These diseases are liable to spread and, if left untreated, they will continue to rot through affected teeth until these are no longer viable. They can also jump to other teeth, as well as sweep across the gumline and all the way to the jawbone. These health conditions can lead to further tooth loss, which is why it’s important to replace missing teeth with dental implants.
How Tooth Decay Damages Your Teeth
Much like an onion, a tooth is made up of many layers. Each layer is composed of a different type of tissue, each with a different and essential purpose. The major tissues of the human tooth are:
- Enamel: This is the outermost layer of the tooth and what gives the tooth the whiteness which we covet. Interestingly, enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body, in large part because it’s highly mineralized. As it stands, it’s a good thing enamel is so hard, because it performs the task of protecting the bottom layers of tissue from external elements. This is why it’s so important to avoid undue damage of the enamel on our teeth.
- Dentin: Below the layer of enamel is a layer of dentin, which is also highly mineralized, although not to the same degree as enamel. Dentin not only acts as a secondary layer of defense, it also helps in the distribution of nutrition throughout our teeth, helping them stay healthy.
- Cementum: Under the gumline, there is an additional layer of protection known as cementum. This part of the tooth protects the root from damage and helps keep it in place.
- Pulp: The very core of the tooth is known as the pulp, which contains a bevy of connective and nerve tissues, blood and lymph vessels, and odontoblasts. These latter cells are very important, because they are responsible for the regeneration of dentin. If you are suffering from pain in your teeth, it’s most likely because whatever is causing that pain has reached the pulp and has started to stimulate the nerve endings located there.
Tooth decay gradually eats through these layers of tissue, until the tooth is dead. Also known as cavities or dental caries, the decay is caused by bacteria which consume carbohydrates left behind from the food we eat — which is why we recommend you brush and floss after every meal. These carbs are converted into an acid, excreted by the bacteria onto your teeth. The acid, in turn, strips the various tissues of their minerals. If the minerals are depleted at a faster rate than they can be replaced, the tissue will eventually die and the decay will move on to an even deeper layer of tissue. Slowly, the cavity will spread and, if the infection is left to fester, the tooth will be lost.
What Can I Do About Tooth Decay?
You can help prevent tooth decay by making sure to keep up with your oral hygiene. There’s no substitute for brushing at least twice a day, and you should floss at least once daily. Neither can you go without visiting the dentist every so often; in fact, it’s recommended that you visit the dentist at least twice a year to make sure any accumulated plaque is scraped off. You can also use mouthwash to help combat early buildup of bacteria and plaque, although mouthwash is not a substitute for any brushing, flossing, or the dentist.
If you suffer from tooth decay and it’s caught sufficiently early, Drs. Kline and Davis can provide a dental filling, which consists of getting rid of the affected portion of the tooth and replacing it with a hard, tooth-colored material. Even if the cavity has reached the pulp, the tooth may be salvaged by means of a root canal. In the worst case, if the tooth is lost, it can be replaced with a dental implant, which are such an effective treatment that you’ll hardly remember you lost your teeth in the first place (read more about the benefits to dental implants).
If you are already missing teeth, it’s important to have it replaced as soon as possible. The gap created by the lost tooth can be hard to clean, since you’ll have to brush at irregular angles. As a result, persons with missing teeth suffer from a greater risk of tooth decay and gum disease. By filling the gaps with dental implants, you can avoid this greater risk and benefit from all the health advantages to the implant treatment.
Safeguard Your Oral Health at our Sugar Land Practice
Are you missing one or more teeth? Do you suffer from tooth decay or gum disease? If so, it’s important to seek treatment before these conditions worsen. To learn more about how dental implants can help you protect your smile’s wellbeing, contact our Sugar Land office to schedule your complimentary consultation with Drs. Kline and Davis: 832-500-3935.