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.
Symptoms 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.
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
What 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.