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Tooth Decay Specialist

Northwest Dental and Denture

General Dentists located in Everett, WA & Bellingham, WA

At least nine out of 10 adults in the United States have some tooth decay, according to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics. One of the best ways to avoid tooth decay is through regular dental checkups. Book an appointment at one of the Washington locations of Northwest Dental -- Bellingham, Burlington, Arlington, Everett, or Oak Harbor to prevent tooth decay.

Tooth Decay Q & A

What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay is a form of damage to your teeth, caused by bacteria. The bacteria makes acids which can make tiny holes in the enamel of your tooth. Left untreated, the decay can progress to the two deeper layers -- the dentin and the pulp --of your tooth.

Plaque, which is a sticky substance that forms on your teeth and gums, contains the bacteria that create the acids that cause tooth decay. These bacteria thrive on the sugars in the foods you eat.

How is tooth decay treated?

Tooth decay treatment depends on how far the decay has progressed. If only the enamel is affected, your dentist at Northwest Dental may suggest a fairly simple treatment, such as a prescription mouth rinse or fluoride treatment.

If the decay has reached the dentin, your dentist will likely suggest a filling as the most effective tooth decay treatment. In that case, your dentist will numb your mouth, remove the decay, and fill the tooth with resin or an amalgam filling which is a mix of materials.

More advanced decay may require a dental crown, which is a more expensive option but also one that adds strength to your tooth.

If the decay has reached the innermost layer of your teeth, the pulp, the treatment options are fewer. Often, you may need a root canal or an extraction.

What are the best ways to avoid tooth decay?

The best way to protect your teeth from decay is to brush and floss twice daily because removing plaque lowers the chances of acid eroding the tooth enamel.

In addition to following good oral hygiene practices at home, see your Northwest Dental dentist twice a year for professional cleanings and checkups.

Drinking tap water, which contains fluoride, helps protect your teeth, as does avoiding sugary drinks. Water helps rinse away bacteria, while sugary drinks contribute to plaque buildup.

How can I protect my child’s teeth from decay?

Good oral hygiene should begin early. Teach your children to brush their teeth at night and in the morning. It’s a habit that will protect their teeth for a lifetime.

Consider sealants to protect children’s teeth. Sealants are painted on the molars, forming a barrier that prevents decay-causing bacteria from getting in hard-to-clean spaces. Children are especially prone to cavities between the ages of six and 14 years, and dental sealants can be an effective method of prevention.