Symptoms of Tooth Decay! Prevention Tips & Treatment Plans

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Symptoms of Tooth Decay! Prevention Tips & Treatment Plans

tooth decay symptoms and treatment

Tooth decay also known as dental caries, carious lesion or cavities. Cavities are holes in the teeth due to bacterial activities. Tooth decay is a common dental problem.

tooth decay symptoms and treatmentSymptoms of Tooth Decay?

The signs and symptoms vary depending upon their extent and location. When a cavity is just beginning, you may not have any symptoms at all. As the decay gets larger, it may cause symptoms.

Earliest sign is the appearance of a chalky white spot on the surface of the tooth, indicating an area of demineralization of enamel. It can be stopped or reversed at this point enamel can repair itself by using minerals from saliva, fluoride from toothpaste or other sources.

As the lesion continues to demineralize, it can turn brown but will eventually turn into cavitation. Active decay is lighter in color and dull in appearance. When the decay has progressed enough to allow the bacteria to overwhelm the pulp tissue in the center of the tooth a tooth ache can result and the pain will become more constant Death of the pulp tissues and infection are common consequences. The tooth will no longer sensitive to hot or cold, but can be very tender to pressure.

Read What Cause Tooth Decay and How Risk it is ?

How to Prevent Tooth Decay?

  • Regular cleaning of the teeth
  • Use soft bristled tooth brush and follow proper tooth brushing technique
  • Regular flossing
  • Use fluoride containing toothpaste
  • Chewing sugar free gum after you have eaten may also help prevent tooth decay. When you chew gum the saliva production increases and it neutralizes the acid in your mouth before it can damage your teeth
  • See the label before buying snacks.in general, high in sugar means more than 15gm of sugar for every 100gm of product and low in sugar means less than 5gm of sugar for every 100gm of product.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Cut down on sugary and starchy food and drinks, particularly between meals or within an hour of going to bed

How to Prevent Tooth Decay in Children?

  • Yours child’s diet is important in preventing a cavity. Put time limit between meals and snacks. This reduces the number of acid attacks on the teeth and gives teeth a chance to repair themselves.
  • Make sure your child does not eat or drink anything with sugar in it after bedtime tooth brushing. Saliva flow decreases during sleep. Without enough saliva, teeth are less able to repair themselves after an acid attack
  • Use fluoride toothpaste
  • Supervise young children when they are brushing
  • Ask your dentist about topical fluoride application
  • Dental sealants:-these are another good way to help avoid a cavity. Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Back teeth have uneven pits and grooves so that food and bacteria can get stuck and stay there a long time because toothbrush bristles can’t easily brush them away. Sealants cover these surfaces and form a barrier that protects teeth and prevent food and bacteria from getting trapped there. It,s best to get these teeth sealed as soon as they come in.
  • Take your child to the dentist for regular checkups
  • Bed time infant feeding:-don’t give babies bed time bottles filled with milk, juice or other sugar containing liquids

early-childhood-tooth-decayWhat is the Treatment Plan for Tooth Decay?

Fluoride treatment:- if your cavity is just getting started, a fluoride treatment may help to restore your tooth’s enamel. Professional fluoride treatment contains more fluoride than the amount found in tap water, toothpaste, rinses. Liquid, gel, foam or varnish that is brushed onto your teeth or placed in a small tray that fits over your teeth

Fillings:-the dentist will remove the carious structure of the tooth and fill the cavity with a restorative material such as silver amalgam, glass-ionomer cement, composits

Crowns:-crowns are preferred when the decay is extensive or the teeth are weak. Crowns are custom fitted covering that replaces entire your natural tooth crown. Different types of crowns are available such as gold, porcelain, porcelain fused to metal

Root canal:-when decay reaches the pulp, you need to undergo root canal treatment. Instead of extraction you can save your tooth by doing root canal. Pulp is removed from the canals and replaced with a filling. After the root canal treatment crown is given.

Extraction:-so severely decayed tooth that can’t be restored and must be removed.

What Causes Tooth Decay? Who is at Risk for Cavities?

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay also known as dental caries, carious lesion or cavities. Cavities are holes in the teeth due to bacterial activities. Tooth decay is a common dental problem.

Our mouths are full of bacteria. Hundreds of different types of bacteria live in our teeth, gums, tongue and other places in the mouth. Some are helpful but some are harmful such as those that play a role in the tooth decay process. IF not treated, tooth decay can cause pain, infection and tooth loss.

Tooth DecayWhat Causes Tooth Decay?

There are 4 main criteria required for caries formation

  • tooth surface
  • caries causing bacteria
  • fermentable carbohydrates
  • time

Tooth Surface:-

There are certain diseases and disorders affecting teeth that may leave an individual at a greater risk for cavities. Amelogenesis imperfecta is a disease in which the enamel does not fuuly forms or form insufficient amounts making the teeth more vulnerable to cause decay because enamel is not able to protect the teeth. IN most people diseases and disorders affecting teeth are not primary cause of dental decay. The major component in the enamel is hydroxyapatite.it will become soluble when exposed to acidic environment. Enamel begins to demineralize at a pH of 5.5. Dentin and cementum are more susceptible to caries than enamel because they have lower mineral content. Thus, when root surfaces of teeth are exposed from gingival recession or periodontal disease caries can develop more readily

Caries Causing Bacteria:-

Bacteria and food can cause tooth decay. The bacteria form bacterial plaque which is a sticky film that coats your teeth. If you run your tongue along your teeth you may be able to feel this plaque forming. It is slightly rough and it is more noticeable on your back teeth, especially close to your gums. If the plaque is not removed while it is soft, it becomes hard and difficult to remove and it acts as a good place for bacteria to hide. . Most plaque retentive areas are between teeth and inside pits and fissures on chewing surfaces where brushing is difficult. Over 80% of cavities occur inside pits and fissures. When plaque is collected above the gingiva then it is called as supra-gingival plaque and if the plaque is collected below the gums are called as sub-gingival plaque

The bacteria more responsible for dental cavities are the Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus species. These organisms can produce high levels of lactic acid following fermentation of dietary sugars. Lactic acid demineralizes the enamel and then cavity is formed. Cementum of root surfaces is more easily demineralized than enamel surfaces. Root caries causing bacteria are Lactobacillus acidophilus, Actinomyces spp., and Nocardia spp and streptococcus mutans.

Fermentable carbohydrates:-

Dental caries is caused by specific types of bacteria that produce acid in the presence of fermentable carbohydrates such as sucrose, fructose and glucose. The mineral content of teeth is sensitive to acids produced by bacteria. Remineralization can also occur if the acid is neutralized by saliva or mouth mash. If demineralization continues over time, enough mineral content may be lost so that the soft organic material left behind disintegrates forming a cavity or hole.

Exposure time:-

The frequency of which teeth are exposed to acidic environment affects the likelihood of caries development. Whenever we eat or drink something that contains sugar or starch, the bacteria use them and produce acids. These acids attack the outer surface of enamel. As time progress, the pH of the oral cavity returns to normal due to the buffering capacity of saliva. Saliva, fluoride from toothpaste, water and other sources help enamel to repair itself by replacing minerals which are lost during an acid attack. Our teeth go through this natural process of losing minerals and regain minerals all day long. When a tooth is exposed to acids frequently, the repeated cycles of acid attacks cause the enamel to continue to lose minerals leading to cavitation.

What are the Risk Factors for Tooth Decay?

Factors which increase the tooth decay are risk factors.

  • Conditions that result in less saliva:-diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome and some medications decrease the saliva production
  • Not brushing and flossing your teeth
  • High sugar food consumption
  • Not getting enough fluoride
  • Smoking, using spit tobacco
  • Frequent snacking and sipping of drinks
  • Bed time infant feeding
  • Dry mouth
  • Worn fillings or dental devices
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia
  • Age
  • Acid reflux disease or heart burn
  • Taking sugary and starchy foods and drinks, particularly between meals or within an hour of going to bed
  • Radiation

Who is at Risk for Cavities?

We all carry bacteria in our mouths so everyone is at risk for cavities. Those with a diet high in carbohydrates and sugar foods and those who live in communities without fluoridated water are likely candidates for cavities.

Those with a lot of fillings have a high chance of developing decay because restored teeth are good breeding ground for bacteria. Children and senior citizens are at higher risk for dental decay.

Find out the Symptoms of Tooth Decay & Treatment Procedures