Tooth Decay Prevention and Treatment

Tooth decay, also called dental caries, is the breakdown of a tooth’s structure and is one of the most common health issues in the world. Since your teeth cannot regenerate themselves, decay will continue to get worse once it starts, unless you seek treatment. It’s important to practice good dental hygiene to prevent decay and to see your dentist if you notice any signs of an issue so that it can be resolved as soon as possible.

What Causes Tooth Decay?

When you eat foods that contain carbohydrates (sugars and starches), the bacteria in your mouth break them down into acids. These acids can combine with food particles, saliva, and bacteria to form plaque, a sticky substance that sits on the surface (enamel) of your teeth. The plaque will continually produce acid which, over time, breaks down the tooth structure. This will eat through the tooth enamel first and then progress into the dentin below. When this results in a hole in the tooth, this is known as a cavity.

Symptoms of Cavities

If you notice any signs of tooth decay, you should call your dentist to schedule an appointment.

These can include:

  • Toothache
  • New or increased tooth sensitivity
  • Pain when biting down
  • A visible pit or hole in a tooth

You should be aware that it is possible to have a cavity without noticing any symptoms. This is one reason why it’s important to visit your dentist for regular check-ups.

Preventing Tooth Decay

Dental Hygiene at Home

To prevent decay, practice good oral hygiene at home. Although preventive in-office care is beneficial, your day-to-day habits make a huge difference. You should brush your teeth twice daily using a soft-bristle brush. Make sure to clean all the different areas of your teeth, including the front, chewing surfaces, and back. Flossing is also incredibly important for your oral health and you should do this once a day.

How Your Dentist Helps Prevent Cavities

At your regular check-ups, your dentist will check for signs of decay and can address any issues before you even notice them. They also complete professional cleaning to remove dental plaque and calculus, which is a harder form of plaque. Fluoride treatments are common for children, although some adults can also benefit.

Treatments for Tooth Decay


One of the most common treatments for decay is a filling. In the past, these would be made of metal but recently, tooth-colored composite fillings are most common. At our dental office, we use our Solea Laser® to prepare the tooth for the filling.

Dental Crowns

If the decay is more advanced, a crown may be appropriate. This is a porcelain cap that covers and protects the tooth. The crown will be designed to look natural and match nearby teeth.

Tooth Extraction

When decay is left untreated, it will continue to spread and damage the tooth more and more. After a while, this could progress to the point where extraction is necessary. If this is the case, your dentist can work with you to find a solution to replace the lost tooth. This could include a dental implant or bridge.

Dental Care in Oro Valley, AZ

If you suspect that you are suffering from tooth decay, contact our Oro Valley dentist office today.


Finding the Best Teeth Whitening

Professional teeth whitening can help you get a brighter smile. Compared to store-bought whitening strips or toothpaste, dentist-supervised whitening treatments are often stronger, safer, and tailored specifically for you. At Smith Dentalworks, we offer three different types of whitening treatments. We can help you find the best teeth whitening option for you during your appointment. This article also gives a brief overview of the methods available at our office so you can get a general idea of which might be a good fit.

In-Office Teeth Whitening

How It Works

We use a highly-concentrated whitening gel for our in-office treatments. This is significantly stronger than any of the products you can get over-the-counter. We will apply to this your teeth while protecting your gums. After we complete the treatment, we will often apply fluoride to help reduce the risk of tooth sensitivity. This depends on your specific needs. With only one or two visits, teeth can become six to eight shades lighter using this method.

When This Method Could Be Best

In-office gel application could be the best teeth whitening method for you if you need quick results for an upcoming event. However, one thing to keep in mind is that no whitening treatment is permanent. Over time, your teeth will start to stain again. If you think you will need to make touch-ups in the future, you may prefer a take-home method.

Custom-Fit Take-Home Whitening

How It Works

In our office, we will fit you for a custom whitening tray by taking a digital impression of your teeth. This prevents the whitening agent from coming into contact with your gums. We will then give you a high-strength gel and clear instructions for how to use this kit at home. The tray will be yours to keep and you can pick up more of the gel as you need it for touch-ups.

When This Method Could Be Best

If you are looking for a highly-effective and safe method for getting whiter teeth, a custom-made kit can be an excellent option. Since the process is supervised by a professional, it’s easier to make sure everything is progressing as it should. Although the whitening agent is not as strong as our in-office treatments, it is well-suited for at-home application.

Ready-Made Teeth Whitening Trays

How It Works

Our office also offers ready-made take-home teeth whitening kits. These feature strong whitening agents and you get all the benefits of dentist supervision, but don’t have to wait for a custom impression.

When This Method Could Be Best

Ready-made whitening is quicker than custom trays, although not as quick as in-office treatment. This is the most cost-effective option and still provides effective and safe results.

Get a Bright and Beautiful Smile

If you want whiter, beautiful teeth, Smith Dentalworks can help. We offer a variety of cosmetic treatments, including whitening, that can help you love the way your smile looks.

Schedule an appointment and we can help you find the best teeth whitening treatment.