Tooth Decay: A Quick Guide

dental care sign | Dr. Garrett Dennis | Smile Naples | Naples FLTooth decay is one of the most common health problems. However, most people don’t know what tooth decay looks like or how it’s treated. This guide is a quick overview of tooth decay, its symptoms, and treatment options.

Definition of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is damage to the surface (or enamel) of your teeth. It can lead to tiny holes in your teeth called “cavities.” These cavities allow bacteria to enter the tooth, which may lead to infection. Tooth decay must be treated early to prevent bigger problems down the road.

Signs of Tooth Decay

Most people don’t notice the early signs of tooth decay. In fact, you may never realize you have tooth decay until it leads to bigger issues, like a tooth infection. 

If you’re hoping to detect tooth decay at home, you may have problems spotting the symptoms yourself. Once the tooth decay progresses to a cavity, though, you may notice:

  • Pain or sensitivity, especially while you’re eating or drinking.
  • Small gray, brown, or white spots on your teeth.
  • Signs of infection, like swelling or fever.

Treatment for Tooth Decay

If you have tooth decay, you’ll need a dentist for treatment. Treatment options depend on how badly the tooth is damaged.

  • Fluoride treatment is for mild cases of tooth decay. This treatment allows the tooth enamel to repair itself.
  • A filling is the standard option for moderate tooth decay. This process includes removing the damaged area of the tooth, then filling the area with resin or another filling substance.
  • Root canals are for more severe tooth decay. This process includes removing the tooth decay, placing a temporary filling, and later placing a crown to cover the surface. Your dentist may recommend a permanent filling over a crown in certain situations.
  • Extraction is the “last resort” treatment for tooth decay. If the tooth is too damaged to repair, your dentist may remove the tooth entirely. You may need a bridge or implant to replace the natural tooth.

Schedule a Dental Cleaning in Naples, FL

Whether you think you have a cavity or want to prevent tooth decay, patients need regular dental cleanings to maintain the health of their teeth. You can schedule an appointment with a dentist in Naples, FL, to check for tooth decay and other dental concerns.


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