What Causes Tooth Decay?

Tooth DecayWhat Causes Tooth Decay?

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, dental caries, more popularly known as tooth decay, are some of the most common chronic diseases in both kids and adults. This is despite the fact that it is a preventable condition.

But what exactly causes tooth decay?

Tooth decay is caused by a diverse number of factors. A Laurel, MD dentist lists the most common causes below.

Poor Oral Hygiene

If you do a poor job of cleaning your teeth, you become more vulnerable to getting tooth decay.

How do you take good care of your teeth and gums? Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. Brush your teeth for at least two minutes and remember to clean your tongue as well.

Enamel Issues and Deep Tooth Crevices

If you have either of the two, or both, you are highly likely to get tooth decay. This is because the bacteria and plaque in your mouth have room to grow.

To counter this problem, ask your dentist about dental sealants.

Poor Nutrition

If your diet consists of lots of food which are rich in sugar, carbohydrates and acid, you may face tooth decay sooner or later.

Try your best to keep these foods to a minimum and replace these with healthier fare.

Dry Mouth

The saliva in your mouth helps keep the bacterial population inside in check. However, if you are a diabetic, if you are taking medications that affect saliva protection, or if you have a genetic condition, your mouth may become dry and leave you at risk of tooth decay.


Bruxism or teeth grinding while sleeping wears away the teeth’s enamel. This leaves your teeth vulnerable to the attack of the bacteria in your mouth.

Keep bruxism in check by wearing a night or bite guard. You may also consider practicing relaxation techniques.


Some people are, simply put, more vulnerable to tooth decay because of the genes they inherited from their parents.


Tooth decay can become prevalent during old age. However, age may be just one part of a larger equation. Other age-related factors that may come into play include medications which dry the mouth, poor oral hygiene, and recession of gums.

Not Seeing Your Dentist

Good oral hygiene can only do so much for your teeth and gums. You also need to visit your dentist regularly to help keep your mouth healthy.

Regular visits to your dentist in Burtonsville allows you to get your teeth professionally cleaned. These checkups are also a good way for you and your dentist to keep potential problems like tooth decay in check.

Common Signs of an Abscessed Tooth

Abscessed ToothSigns of an Abscessed Tooth 

Need another reason to take better care of your oral health? Two words: abscessed tooth.

What is an abscessed tooth?

An abscessed tooth occurs when the root of your tooth or the area between a tooth and the gum has become infected. It has a few causes, the most common of which is tooth decay. Other possible causes include gum disease and trauma.

Whatever the cause of your abscessed tooth may be, the common denominator is the creation of an opening in the affected tooth’s enamel. Those openings pave the way for bacteria to enter the tooth and infect and damage the pulp, which is located in the center of the tooth. Left unchecked and untreated, the infection can spread to other areas, including the bones which support the affected tooth.

Severe Toothache

The most common sign of an abscessed tooth is severe toothache which can vary from throbbing pain to shooting pain. Apart from toothaches, other common symptoms of an abscessed tooth include fever, painful chewing, sensitivity to hot and/or cold, bad breath and bitter taste, swelling of the neck glands, swelling and redness of the gums, swelling of the jaws, and a sore on the side of the affected gum.

Sometimes, the pulp of the affected tooth dies. In this instance, the toothache will usually stop. However, this does not necessarily mean that the infection is gone. On the contrary, the infection can quietly spread and wreak havoc on nearby tissue. This is why it is crucial to immediately seek the help of a Laurel, MD dentist if you experience the symptoms listed above.

Determining If You Have an Abscessed Tooth

In order to determine whether you truly have an abscessed tooth, your dentist will probe your teeth using a dental instrument. If you do have an abscessed tooth, you will feel pain when the suspected tooth is tapped. During this dental visit, your dental will also ask you to bite down and ask you if you feel any pain. Your dentist will also conduct a visual inspection and may take an X-ray of your mouth.

If your dentist confirms that you have an abscessed tooth, he or she will create a treatment plan which has three key goals: remove the infection, preserve the affected tooth, and prevent further complications.

In order to eliminate the infection, you will need to undergo root canal therapy. In some cases, dentists will recommend root surgery for the removal of the dead root tissue. In other cases, there is no recourse but to extract the infected tooth and allow the drainage of the abscess. Another option for the drainage of the abscess is the incision of the swollen gum.

Your local Burtonsville dentist will also prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection and pain relievers for the pain and discomfort.