Early detection of tooth decay

When left untreated, tooth decay can have devastating consequences. As decay progresses, more and more of the natural tooth structure is compromised. Eventually, the tooth will be lost. Furthermore, the bacteria that attack the enamel of the tooth may begin to target other structures in the mouth, such as the gums or the jawbone. In such cases, dentists may face the need to extract other teeth.

Fortunately, these outcomes are avoidable. Regular appointments with the best dentists in Bedford TX can help patients learn of tooth decay in its earliest stages, when it can be treated with minimal damage to the teeth.

Some patients may wait to call the dentist until a cavity is visible to the naked eye or until the decay is causing pain or discomfort in the tooth, but it’s best to seek treatment earlier.

Dentists recommend semiannual checkups for a reason. When patients regularly have exams at this interval, it is unlikely that decay will advance beyond the point at which it can be successfully treated using conventional filling techniques and materials.

Your dentist has a number of tools available to identify tooth decay. Radiography (X-rays) gives the dentist a view of the hidden surfaces of the teeth, such as the areas between the teeth and the interior structures of the teeth. Many dentists now offer digital radiography, which exposes patients to far lower levels of radiation than their film-based counterparts.

A visual inspection of the teeth can also help the dentist spot tooth decay, and the dentist may also use dental instruments to poke and prod at the teeth in an effort to detect cavities. Dental mirrors help to give the dentist a better view of certain areas of the tooth, such as the lingual surfaces that face the tongue.

You can also take steps at home to prevent cavities. For example, you may limit sugary snacks or commit to brushing for a full two minutes twice each day. However, you must follow up with your dentist twice a year to be sure you’re doing everything possible to thwart the spread of tooth decay.