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Tooth Decay: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

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A women suffering from tooth decay

No one wants to deal with tooth decay (cavities). While treatment can solve tooth decay, avoiding having to book a root canal or inlay/overlay procedure is possible with proactive action. Visiting your dentist for regular dental exams and cleanings can help catch the issue before it has gone too far. 

Do you think you have been dealing with tooth decay? Continue reading to learn how it was caused and how it can be prevented in the future. 


Dealing with any dental issue can be painful and frustrating. Tooth decay is no exception. However, catching these symptoms early is important when identifying tooth decay and working to fix it. 

Tooth decay can often be described by the following symptoms:

  • Toothache
  • Tooth sensitivity 
  • Mild to sharp pain when eating/drinking 
  • Visible holes or pits in your teeth 
  • Staining on the surface of the tooth 

Even if these symptoms seem mild at the moment, they can quickly escalate and create larger issues in your oral and general health. Identifying these symptoms early on allows for your dentist to use simpler treatments that will leave a lesser impact. Catching tooth decay early is key. 

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, please contact your dentist for a dental exam.

Mother and daughter brushing their teeth before bed.


We put our teeth through a lot on a daily basis. Every food/drink we consume has some effect on our teeth. Just as other areas of our body are at risk of injury from over/incorrect use, so are our teeth. 

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in the food we eat. The bacteria will then create plaque and acids that work quickly to destroy the enamel on our teeth. This process is bound to happen, we can’t change the ingredients in our food or the process our body takes. However, avoiding food that contains lots of sugar is an easy way to lower the plaque created on our teeth. 

We all know avoiding sugar completely is hard and is most likely not going to happen (we all like to treat ourselves). The effects of plaque created by sugar are only further elevated when a proper, consistent dental routine is not followed every day. 

Tooth decay is a serious issue that we all face. However, we can all treat and even prevent tooth decay…


Dental Exams & Cleanings

Taking proper care of your teeth is a proactive game. While maintaining a proper brushing routine (twice a day) and flossing routine (once a day) is a great place to start, professional cleaning is required twice a year to keep your teeth protected from tooth decay. 

Your dentist will also provide you with a dental exam twice a year. During this exam, they will check your teeth and gums to make sure no signs of tooth decay have appeared. 

Visiting your dentist for a dental exam and cleaning will not only help protect your teeth against tooth decay but also against other (potentially larger) dental conditions. 

Inlays & Onlays 

Often referred to as partial crowns, inlays and onlays are forms of indirect restoration. This is a treatment recommended to patients who have experienced the damage of tooth decay. Inlays and onlays help to restore your affected teeth and prevent future tooth decay issues. 

Inlays and onlays are made outside of your mouth and then placed on the affected tooth or teeth. The process does not require any drilling or extreme surgical work. 

While both inlays and onlays work to support your tooth decay, inlays only cover the chewing surface of the tooth, while onlays cover the chewing surface as well as the cusps. To ensure your teeth look natural again, we use VITA Easyshade for the best results. 

Root Canals 

The other forms of treatment are used to treat mild cases of tooth decay, while a root canal is used on badly damaged teeth. This process uses a full crown to protect affected teeth from future infections. 

This safe and effective process is done by your dentist removing the damaged tissue, disinfecting the area, and filling the space with a natural material called gutta-percha. Once the tooth is filled, your dentist will then place a temporary or permanent crown over the affected tooth.

While this process is used to treat badly damaged teeth, root canals are in fact nearly painless! Although they are near painless, a root canal can be avoided by taking advantage of the other types of treatment above. 

Maintaining Strong Oral Health

Tooth decay is an issue we all face. While it might not seem like an issue until the potentially painful symptoms set in, tooth decay can affect our general health if left untreated. Consulting with your dentist can help prevent early signs of tooth decay and options that allow for a good oral health regime. 

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