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what causes teeth to decay sydney

What Causes Teeth to Decay? Discover How Crowns Can Help

Even people who have perfect oral hygiene can get tooth decay. Affecting people of any age, nearly half of Australian children under six years old have tooth decay in their baby teeth. But many people don’t know what causes teeth to decay. 

Tooth decay is often overlooked or not discovered until it’s too late to restore and save the tooth with the help of dental crowns, but understanding tooth decay and how it starts can make a difference in your dental health.


What is Tooth Decay?

A cavity forms when the tooth enamel deteriorates due to acidic byproducts caused by bacteria in the mouth. Cavities are one of the early signs of tooth decay; however, several other conditions can contribute to tooth decay.

  • If your teeth are misaligned, they may be harder to keep clean. This can cause plaque to form and develop into cavities.
  • Infections in the gums can lead to gum disease, and if left untreated, it can develop into a condition called periodontitis. Gum disease affects three out of 10 adults and is a leading cause of tooth decay.
  • Smokers produce more bacterial plaque, making them more likely to get gum disease or periodontitis, the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.
  • A dry mouth can cause a buildup of bacterial plaque, so people who take medications that dry out the mouth, people who snore or breathe through their mouth, and post-menopausal women can have a greater risk of tooth decay.


What Causes Teeth to Decay?

When asked, ‘What causes teeth to decay’? many people believe that caries is the sole cause. However, plaque is what causes teeth to decay by forming cavities. Plaque is created when bacteria in the mouth form a sticky buildup on the teeth.

crowns tooth decay sydneyThe acids produced by the bacteria erode the tooth’s enamel creating a hole called a cavity. Some areas of the mouth are more susceptible to the buildup of plaque:

  • The gum line at the bottom of your teeth
  • On the uneven surfaces (fissures) of your chewing molars
  • Between teeth

When a cavity is left untreated, it can not only destroy the tooth but can lead to more serious problems, such as discomfort, an abscess, or infection. In children, severe cases of tooth decay can influence the development of the jaw and adversely impact speech and nutritional health.


Plaque development and acid erosion are determined by the level of tooth exposure to sugar. Foods that stick to your teeth and increase plaque buildup include:

  • Lollies, cakes and biscuits that are high in sugar
  • Ice cream
  • Fizzy drinks and juice
  • Dried fruit
  • Starchy snacks like chips and crackers


What are the signs of Tooth Decay?

Cavities are usually one of the first signs of tooth decay that people spot. They can be identified by pitting in the tooth or a black, brown or white spot or stain on the surface of a tooth, but there are other symptoms.

  • Sensitivity to heat, cold, or exceptionally sweet foods and beverages in one or more teeth
  • Discomfort when chewing or biting
  • Swollen or red gums/ swelling of the face
  • Aching or discomfort in a tooth



How Do You Treat Tooth Decay?

Good oral hygiene practices are the best way to prevent tooth decay. But depending on the severity of your cavities and damage to the teeth, there are several methods to treat tooth decay.


Fluoride treatment

Your dentist can restore the tooth’s enamel with a fluoride treatment for a cavity in its first stages. Fluoride treatments are usually a liquid, foam, or gel placed in a tray fitted to the teeth or a varnish that is brushed on.



Fillings are typically made from a composite resin applied in layers and cured with a special light. Your dentist may recommend a partial dental crown if the cavity has weakened the tooth but doesn’t require modifying the tooth’s structure. 


Root canal treatment

When a cavity progresses into the pulp chamber, it can cause a severe infection. A root canal is often performed to save or repair the tooth rather than extract it. The dentist removes the infected tissue and disinfects the pulp chamber before sealing the tooth with gutta-percha and a filling.

After a root canal, your dentist typically restores the tooth’s chewing surface with a dental crown. 



If a tooth becomes so severely damaged that it can’t be saved or restored, it will be extracted from the mouth to prevent the spread of decay. Dental implants, bridges and dental implants with dental crowns can be used to replace the missing teeth.


Dental crown

A dental crown is a cap that fits over the tooth colour-matched to your natural teeth. It is the best option for a tooth that has been severely damaged or decayed. Dental crowns are also used to hold a bridge in place or cover a misshapen or stained tooth. 


What to Expect When Getting Traditional Dental Crowns

A dental crown is made by removing a layer of enamel from the surface of the original tooth.

decayed teeth dental crowns sydneyYour dentist takes dental impressions using a tray and alginate to create a mould of your tooth. The dental crown is fabricated in an off-site lab using the mould.

Dental crowns mimic the original tooth, so they fit perfectly inside your mouth.

Dental crowns take two visits to the dentist’s office, the first to shape the tooth and take the impressions for the dental crown.

The dental crown is applied to your tooth when you revisit the practice for your follow-up appointment.  


What to Expect When Getting CEREC Dental Crowns

At No Gaps Dental, we offer revolutionary CEREC dental technology, enabling you to be fitted for dental crowns in a single session. A CEREC dental crown is made using CAD/CAM digital technology to scan the original tooth and mill the dental crowns on-site from a solid block of zirconia ceramic colour-matched to your natural teeth. 


Restore Your Smile at No Gaps Dental

If you have severe tooth decay, visit No Gaps Dental for a consultation. Our experienced team can examine your teeth and prescribe one of several treatment options, including dental crowns, CEREC crowns and fillings. Contact us on 02 8007 6727 or check one of our 15 Sydney locations to book your appointment



Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.





Tooth Decay

Dental Crowns: Everything You Need to Know

Cavities/ Tooth Decay

Signs Of A Cavity

Smoking And Oral Health

Information for Patients About Dental Amalgam Fillings




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