Tooth Decay

What is tooth decay?

  • Tooth decay is a common disease that causes holes (cavities) in teeth.
  • If left untreated, tooth decay may eventually lead to a dental infection (abscess) or tooth loss.
  • Tooth decay may cause pain and affects the ability to eat a healthy diet.
  • Tooth decay may be prevented.

What causes tooth decay?

  • Plaque bacteria and sugary food and drinks are the two main factors that cause tooth decay.
  •  The combination of plaque bacteria and sugar in the mouth produces acid.
  • The acid dissolves or weakens the surface of the tooth. With time this may cause a cavity to develop.


  • It is not only the amount of sugar you eat or drink each day that affects your teeth, but also how often you have sugary food and drink.
  • Every time you have something sweet to eat or drink, acid is produced.
  • If you snack too often, the time the acid is in contact with your teeth increases – and so does the risk of tooth decay.

How do I know if I have tooth decay?

  • White, chalky lines near the gumline are one of the first signs of tooth decay.
  • Brown or black spots or holes may be present on the surface of your tooth.
  • Your tooth may feel sore or be very sensitive to hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks.
  • Sometimes only a dental professional can advise if you have tooth decay.

How is tooth decay treated?

Your dental professional will talk to you about the best treatment for your tooth. Depending

on the severity of the tooth decay, treatment options vary and may range from a filling to root

canal treatment or extraction.

To help prevent tooth decay:

  • Use a small, soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to clean your teeth and gums.
  • Brush each morning and before bed at night.
  • After brushing, spit the toothpaste out, but do not rinse.
  • Choose healthy snacks between mealtimes such as fruit, vegetables, reduced salt crackers and reduced fat dairy foods such as plain yoghurt and cheese.
  • Avoid sugary soft drinks, energy drinks, cordial and juices.
  • Plain tap water is the best drink.
  • If you have any questions about this information, please discuss these with our dental staff.