What causes tooth decay? A guide from our dentist Wagga

When it comes to attending biannual checkups, many dental patients will be less than eager, and if you have a fear or phobia of dental teams overall, it can be more tempting than ever to avoid these types of appointments.

However, dental checkups will prevent issues from occurring or developing into more difficult-to-treat conditions, such as gum disease and tooth decay, which are two of the core factors that our dental team will look for when you attend an appointment with us.

When you come to Kooringal Dental, our dentist Wagga will always ensure that you receive the highest quality of care and a compassionate, empathic approach if you are a nervous patient. We will endeavour to make every appointment you have with our team as comfortable as possible and always explain every step of the procedure that we perform.

Many dental patients know what tooth decay looks and feels like, but it can be a bit more challenging to know exactly what causes it and the procedures available to treat the different stages.

In this brief guide, our dentist Wagga looks at those points and more, so enjoy!

What causes decay?

If you were to ask most people what causes dental decay, they would say sugar. In some ways, this is correct, but according to our dentist Wagga, it is a bit more complicated than that.

In your mouth, there are colonies of bacteria that can cause havoc if they are left unchecked. When the decay-causing bacteria make contact with starches or sugars that are attached to your teeth from food or drinks, they form acid. If this acid is not removed along with the plaque, it can attack your enamel and cause demineralisation; this will weaken and destroy the enamel, forming a cavity.

Symptoms of tooth decay

Most people assume that dental decay presents with toothache, but that is only in the later stages; therefore, you must see our team for checkups as often as possible. Early-stage decay can be reversed, and the tooth can be remineralised with the application of fluoride sealants and toothpaste. As tooth decay advances, you may notice dental pain and sensitivity to sugary beverages or hot or cold substances. In extreme cases, the tooth can become infected, and an abscess can form, which can cause excessive discomfort, swelling to the face and fever.

How we look for dental decay

Interestingly, one of the first visual signs that our team looks for relating to tooth decay is not a brown mark; it is a bright white one! If the decay is more advanced, it will look like a darker spot or a hole in the tooth, and your tooth may feel sticky or soft. Our team may also want to take an x-ray if they suspect that there was decay hiding underneath the gum line.


If the cavity has only just begun, we may attempt to remineralise the tooth, but in most cases, oral cavities are treated with fillings. We remove the decayed tissue and restore it with either a composite or a metal amalgam filling. If the tooth has extensively decayed, but the roots are still intact, we may opt for a crown, and if there is an abscess, we usually treat this with a root canal.


All treatments carry risks. Individual consultation is required with one of our practitioners to ensure that the treatment is right for you.


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