What Is Tooth Decay?

When sugars and acids eat away at your protective enamel over time, they gradually attack your teeth and cause tooth decay. When left untreated, the cavities that form can grow into a worse dental abscess.

Symptoms of tooth decay or a tooth abscess include:

  • Toothache
  • Swelling
  • Bad breath
  • Dark spots on teeth

For those with a high-sugar or high-carb diet, you may be at higher risk for developing tooth decay. Additionally, younger children are more at risk for tooth decay than adults are.

Preventing Tooth Decay

Fortunately, preventing tooth decay is easy! Regular visits to the dentist for exams and cleanings, as well as good at-home hygiene habits like brushing and flossing, are your best defense against the development of cavities.

Consider these simple steps:

  • Eat healthy foods that are lower in sugars
  • Brush and floss at least twice a day
  • Schedule routine exams and cleanings
  • Fluoride treatments if you don’t think you get enough natural fluoride 
  • Consider the application of dental sealants

Treatment of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is common, which means it’s also commonly treated. This may include:

    • Filling: Once the decay is removed, the cavity can be filled with a dental filling to prevent further spread. When cavities are caught on time, this is often the most common treatment!
    • Crown: If decay is severe, a crown may be used to protect the entire tooth from further harm.
    • Root canal: When an infection has reached the pulp of the tooth, a root canal is necessary. This treatment isn’t as scary as it sounds, and is completely routine!
    • Extraction: Only necessary when all other options have been exhausted, extraction may be recommended for overtly severe cases of decay that could affect your oral or overall health.


What is a tooth abscess?
A tooth abscess is an infection that occurs at the root of a tooth or between the tooth and gum as a result of severe tooth-decay trauma. Signs that you may have a tooth abscess include fever, tooth pain/sensitivity, bad breath, swollen glands, swelling in the gums or upper or lower jaw, and open sores.
Is tooth pain a sign of tooth decay?
Tooth pain can be a sign of tooth decay or other oral health issues. If you are experiencing tooth pain, you should contact our provider and have it diagnosed immediately.
Is tooth extraction necessary if you have tooth decay?
Tooth extraction may become necessary in severe cases of tooth decay. Extraction will only be considered after every possible avenue that preserves the tooth is exhausted.

Call 508.888.4400 to find out more about tooth decay and prevention or to schedule your routine exam with our Sandwich, MA dental office today.