Having teeth removed is a nightmare for many people, and it’s not an unreasonable fear since the process can be complicated and the recovery can be painful. Additionally, missing a tooth can impact one’s self-esteem. Fortunately, extraction is usually the last resort, and in the case of dental caries it is unlikely to be necessary.

What is dental decay?

Dental decay is also known as dental caries and is a bacterial infection of a tooth structure. The bacteria present in the infection produce acid that affects the tooth enamel. As this process develops, the tooth structure is lost, which can develop into tooth decay. Dental caries is usually caused by high sugar intake and/or poor oral hygiene.

Which treatment is used for it?

The treatment required will depend how serious your dental decay is, as well as, it’s location on the tooth. Your dentist will evaluate your case from the below and assign the most suitable treatment.

As a general rule, there are three most common cases:

1.    Decay that does not reach the pulp

When decay does not reach the nerve space (pulp), it can usually be fixed easily. In this case, the caries is removed and the space that the cavity created is replaced with filling. The filling is usually made from composite resin or a glass ionomer.

If You Have Dental Decay You Will Need A Tooth Extraction

2.    Decay that reaches the pulp

In this case the decay starts to cause real problems. When decay reaches the pulp, a normal filling is usually not enough to remove it and root canal treatment is often necessary.

3.    Decay that has reached the pulp and is causing advanced tooth decay

When the tooth has reached an advanced tooth decay situation, none of the treatments described above are sufficient. A root canal treatment requires some dental structure to remain in order to restore the tooth, and if most of the crown has been lost this treatment won’t work or won’t last. Since the ultimate goal is that all dental restorations last, if the prognosis for restoration is likely to be short, tooth removal is the best option.

It is important to note that when it comes to dental decay, timing is very important. Early detection can help avoid serious problems, plus will make the treatment easier and cheaper. However, if you do need a tooth extraction don’t panic, there are a lot of replacement options to restore your beautiful smile.


If you are concerned about tooth decay book a consultation with Dr Kate Amos or Dr Sam Rosehill at Ethical Dental in Coffs Harbour or Dorrigo on (02) 6652 3185 or book online.

To learn more about dental decay check out our articles ‘What are the Symptoms of Dental Caries?‘ and How does dental caries differ from dental cavities?’.