Tooth decay is cavity. It is a hole that grows bigger over time. Untreated cavities can cause toothache, infection and even tooth loss.
What is a Cavity?
Cavity is softening of tooth caused by acids. Teeth are covered with an outer layer called enamel and there is an inner layer called dentin. When the enamel starts to weaken, by acids produced by bacteria, a cavity is formed in or on the tooth surface.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay occurs when food containing carbohydrates like candy, bread, milk soda or fruits stay in your mouth for a long time, the bacteria in mouth turn them into acids which cause cavity. The plaque bacteria generates acid. Acids eat the tooth enamel creating holes in the teeth. When these holes grow bigger tooth decay starts.
Signs and Symptoms of Tooth Decay.
Once the cavity is just beginning, symptoms may not appear but when itgets larger it may show symptoms such as:
● Consistent toothache – A pain that could occur without any cause. Pain could be in the gums below the tooth or the tooth itself.
● Pain while biting any food stuff.
● Bleeding of gums.
● Swelling in certain part of gums.
● Sharp pain while eating or drinking something hot or cold
● Brown or black stains on surface of a tooth.
● Visible holes or pits on teeth.
● Bad breath or a bad taste.
Severity of tooth decay
Decay spreads rapidly because the inner layers are much softer than enamel. With continued tooth decay, pain becomes more frequent and severe. When decay and bacteria reach the pulp portion, infection starts. Consequences can be severe if the infection reaches the jaw bone. Fever, swelling and a bad taste are a few symptoms of severe toothache.
Cavity Tooth Decay and Treatment
In spite of taking care and preventing tooth decay sometimes the dentist finds a little cavity. Tooth decay doesn’t cure itself and even a small discoloring may turn serious with time if neglected. Therefore a regular check up to the dentist can prevent serious problems.
The dentist will Examine your mouth and teeth with dental instruments to check for soft areas. An X ray is done to check the extent of cavity and tooth decay.
● Early Stage – For an early stage of tooth decay the dentist may suggest an approach that would repair a spot. In this process fluoride, calcium and phosphates are given in mouth in the form of toothpaste, mouthwash or a filling material.
● Fillings are Needed – When decay has progressed further, and has created holes in the teeth then a filling is needed. The decayed material is removed from the tooth and is replaced with combination of materials. The filling is a combination of resin tooth color material, silver and other materials.
● A crown is Recommended – An extensive tooth decay, where the tooth has lost its structure or become very weak the dentist may need to do a crown. The dentist will remove the dental decay and fill the hole. Crowns are then placed to strengthen and restore shape and function.
● A Root Canal – When decay reaches the pulp of the tooth, the dentist will recommend a root canal. The dentist will remove the diseased pulp and clean and seal the pulp chamber. To clear the infection a medication is put and then pulp is replaced with a filling. A crown is placed for support.
● Extraction – The worst scenario is a tooth extraction. If the tooth is so badly damaged that it can’t be restored the dentist will need to extract the tooth. The tooth is replaced with a partial denture, bridge or an implant.
How to prevent tooth decay
Tooth decay is a common problem that is completely preventable. The easiest and the best way is to take proper care of your gums and teeth.
● Regular Visits to the Dentist – A regular visit to the dentist will help detect a cavity at an early stage and prevent serious treatments.
● Eating Healthy – Eat healthy foods and cut down on sugary foods and drinks. Cut down on starchy foods especially between meals. These foods feed bacteria in your mouth.
● Using a Fluoride Toothpaste – Brushing teeth regularly with a Fluoride toothpaste is one of the best ways to prevent mineral loss from the tooth.
● Flossing Daily – Flossing daily helps to remove plaque and food particles from the tooth.
● Avoid Smoking and Drinking – Tobacco can interfere with good oral hygiene. Excessive smoking and alcohol consumption will remove the enamel of the teeth.
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