Like certain other diseases, dental decay begins unnoticeably. Harmful bacteria in the mouth accumulate on the surface of a tooth, perhaps in a hard-to-reach area, and they produce an acid that begins to eat away at the tooth enamel. These bacteria feed on the sugars from the foods and beverages you consume. If they are cleaned away soon enough, the tooth enamel will remain intact.
Unfortunately, when a cavity begins to develop, if it is not taken care of sooner rather than later, it will continue to worsen. The enamel of the tooth is very hard. In fact, this is the hardest substance in the body; however, it is not invincible to the acids produced by bad bacteria.
How a Tooth Becomes Infected
Once the acids eat through the enamel, they come to the next layer of the tooth, which is the dentin. The enamel is not considered living tissue; however, the dentin is, and is much softer than the enamel and therefore, the decay moves faster through this layer. The dentin is about 30% organic. Unlike tooth enamel, the dentin can within limits, regenerate.
If the decay is not removed from this layer, it continues to spread until it reaches the pulp of the tooth. The pulp contains the nerves and blood vessels of the tooth. It is here that the tooth receives nourishment. The nerves and blood vessels of the jaw have tiny branches that enter the tooth from the apex of the tooth roots. The pulp is the most vulnerable part of the tooth.
As the decay moves closer to the pulp, you may feel discomfort or pain with hot or cold foods or beverages. Sweets will also cause pain, as the decay moves closer to the nerve center. When decay reaches this area, the tooth begins to die, as the acids attack the nerves and blood vessels. Bacteria builds up in this area, causing infection and inflammation.
The Abscessed Tooth
As the body begins to fight off the infection, more toxins are produced and these can accumulate, causing an abscess to form. The abscess causes swelling and pain. Additionally, the toxins produced begin to dissolve the bone around the abscessed area. At this point, the only thing that can possibly save the tooth from extraction is root canal therapy, and that is only if there is enough healthy tooth structure to save.
An infected tooth is a very painful condition and if not treated, it could possibly lead to more serious health problems such as blood poisoning. Mint Dental provides emergency dental services for those suffering from tooth pain, but before your teeth get infected, count on us to provide excellent preventive care. Call today to schedule an appointment with us.
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190 Riverwind E. Drive, Suite 201
Pearl, MS 39208
Phone: (601) 882-5600