Cavities and tooth decay are one of the world’s most common dental problem especially seen in children, teenagers and older adults.
However, any person who has teeth is susceptible to having cavities be it young, old or an infant too. Let’s get to know about this much neglected tooth disease.
WHAT ARE CAVITIES?
A cavity, commonly called tooth decay or dental caries is damage and dissolution of hard tooth surfaces of teeth leading to formation of a hole or void which eventually may lead to loss of full tooth structure.
WHAT CAUSES TOOTH CAVITY?
Cavities or caries, are caused by a combination of factors. These include –
- Acid (produced by bacteria)
Although bacteria are commonly residing in our oral cavity. The problem comes when they act on deposited food particles and form a layer on tooth surfaces called plaque and produce acid which eventually causes demineralisation and dissolution of tooth surface.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOM OF TOOTH DECAY/CAVITY?
The symptoms of a cavity depend on the severity, extent and location of the decay.
Dental cavity might remain asymptomatic and unnoticed for long span of time. Hence regular dental checkup is mandatory.
However, signs and symptoms include :
- tooth sensitivity
- a visible hole in your teeth
- black or white staining on your teeth
- tooth pain
WHO IS AT RISK??
Everyone is susceptible for cavities, but some people have a higher risk.
Risk factors include:
- Too frequent intake of sugary, sticky or acidic foods and drinks
- A poor oral hygiene routine or failing to brush or floss daily
- Not getting enough fluoride
- Dry mouth
- Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia
- Acid reflux disease or GERD
WHAT CAN BE THE CONSEQUENCES OF UNTREATED TOOTH DECAY??
- Tooth abscess
- Swelling or pus around a tooth
- Damage or broken teeth
- Chewing problems
- Positioning shifts of teeth after tooth loss
HOW CAN TOOTH DECAY/CAVITY BE TREATED?
Dental cavity like any other tooth problem is treatable.
Treatment options depend on severity and extent. These include –
1. Tooth fillings
The dentist will remove decayed material from the tooth and fill your tooth with a substance, such as silver, gold, or composite resin. Recently tooth colored material is most popular filling material.
This is done for severely decayed tooth and for root canal treated tooth. There are different types of crowns available including porcelain, metal and a combination of both too. The dentist will explain it to you at the time of procedure.
3. Root canal
When tooth decay is severe and causes pain, the dentist may advice you to get a root canal treatment done after taking few radiographs if required.
If your dentist detects a tooth cavity in its early stage, a fluoride treatment may restore your tooth enamel and prevent further decay.
PREVENTING DENTAL CARIES
Tooth cavities are a common dental problem, but you prevent them from happening by doing the following:
- Brush your teeth at least twice per day with a fluoridated toothpaste.
- Floss daily
- Eat less amout of sugary and acidic foods, like sweets, candy, juice, soda, and refined carbohydrates.
- Limit snacking between meals.
- Have regular dental checkups.
- Fluoridated toothpaste should be used
- Use sugar free chewing gums
Tooth decay might increase with time and reach to deeper layers of tooth eventually might lead to toothache or tooth loss. Hence it is necessary to brush regularly, have a rich fibrous diet and have a dental checkup at least once a year.
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