Dental caries, or dental decay, is a common disease, which causes cavities and discoloration of both permanent and "baby" teeth. As the disease progresses in a tooth it becomes weaker and its nerve may be damaged.
Dental decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth make acid which then dissolves the tooth. Bacteria only produce this acid when they are exposed to sugar.
The best way to overcome your fear is to discuss your concerns with your dentist.
Experiences as a child may become distorted by time and reinforced by outdated media presentation of stereotypes. Much has changed, thanks to technology and education, and dentists are skilled professionals in dealing with patients who are apprehensive about seeking treatment.
This will obviously be a team approach between you and your dentist and his/her staff. Communication is the key. You must feel comfortable expressing your fears and concerns and have a sense that you are being listened to.
There are various forms of anaesthesia and relaxation that can be used effectively to change your negative thoughts into a positive experience.
"Happy gas", "laughing gas", "relative analgesia", "nitrous oxide" all describe the same form of sedation which can be used for patients who are apprehensive of treatment using local anaesthesia.
Not all dentists utilise these options, but referrals can be made. Likewise, you may elect to have extensive procedures done under full general anaesthesia in a hospital or day centre.
Using a toothbrush which is too hard or using a scrubbing action when brushing your teeth can contribute to receding gums and abrasion of your teeth.
Always use a soft toothbrush with a gentle circluar motion and don't apply pressure - let your tooth brush do the work.
Bad breath may be caused by food particles caught in the mouth, which have deteriorated. Brushing and flossing daily helps dislodge food particles and stop the build up of plaque and bacteria.
Consistent bad breath may be a sign of gum disease or other dental problems.
Crowns are used to rebuild broken or decayed teeth and to improve the cosmetic appearance of a tooth. They are cemented over the existing tooth and are made generally from porcelain, gold alloy or acrylic materials.
A bridge replaces missing teeth by using existing teeth to support new artificial teeth.
Two crowns are attached to the teeth on either side of the missing tooth/teeth and a false tooth is rigidly attached between them.
Bridges are made from metal, gold, porcelain or a combination of these materials.