By definition, tooth decay refers to damage to teeth structure and enamel. Tooth decay can affect even the outer coating of your teeth that is the enamel and dentin layer. Tooth cavities occur when carbohydrates and sugars contained in foods like cereals, milk, cakes and candy damage of teeth structures. Residues from such foods cause bacteria in the mouth to build up that and can affect both the enamel and the dentin layer. Corrosive teeth bleaching agents can also cause tooth decay.
Bacteria that reside in the mouth feed on these food residues, turning them into toxic acids and forms plaques. The plaque buildup is because of acid, food debris and bacteria, in combination with saliva. These toxic substances cling to the teeth thereby causing tooth decay once the acid dissolves in the teeth enamel. Holes in the teeth start to form also called cavities.
There are mainly two different types of teeth cavities, that is pit and fissure cavities. Pit cavity occurs on the teeth’s smooth surface while fissure develops in the root surface. They both occur one teeth surfaces especially the chewing surface of the teeth. These bacteria thrive best in sugary environments after improper oral hygiene after snacking on sugary snacks and drinks.
Cavities can permanently damage areas of your teeth especially the hard surfaces most of them are also not reversible. Frequent snacking and not brushing your teeth twice a day promotes the formation of caries. Therefore, permanent damage to your teeth occurs some of them are irreversible too.
Both children and adults suffer from dental cavities. This makes it a major concern in the world. A recurrent infection leads to infections, inflammation and some of the causing teeth loss. Children, teenagers, and senior people are the most affected age groups.
If left untreated, teeth cavities and decay can lead to more complicated health conditions. Infection of the deeper layers of teeth such as gums is also possible. To prevent these dental health problems, regular brushing and flossing can help. Also, regular dentist visits prevent tooth decay.
Symptoms of tooth decay
The common visible symptoms of caries are different and depend on location and severity. When a dental hole is at onset stages, it may symptomless. Nevertheless, once the cavity reaches the teeth nerves the symptoms start being severe and evidenced by holes in the teeth. The clinical manifestations of tooth decay include:
· Dental pain can be either mild or severe especially when hot or cold foods come into contact with the tooth
· Tooth sensitivity and over sensitivity to touch by maybe the cheek or tongue
· Pain when chewing food
· Yellow to brown teeth stains or even black in severe cases
· Visible pits or cavities on affected teeth
Knowing when to visit the dentist can help catch the culprit on time and prevent further damage to healthy teeth or teeth loss. They only way to get a timely diagnosis of teeth decay is only when you visit your dentist regularly. You do not have to wait to experience teeth pain or sensitivity to see a dentist. Do so as soon as possible to control and manage the problem completely.
The ideal time to see a dentist
You may not be aware that a hole is forming in your tooth. That is further emphasizes the importance of regularly visiting your dentist. You need to check your teeth regularly even if there are no signs of cavities. However, if you experience any deviations from the normal, it is vital you see a dentist immediately.
Contributing factors of tooth decay
The pathology of tooth decay takes time. It does not occur overnight. Tooth decay is a process that does not occur instantly. It takes time to develop tooth decay. Once plaque forms on the teeth surface resulting from the buildup of food residues, bacteria starts to grow. This environment provides a good habitat for bacteria to thrive. Bacteria feed on sugary plaques and then plaque attacks follow. The plaque acid corrodes the teeth enamel and the corrosion consequently forms cavities or caries. As the destruction by plaque, acid continues further damage continues. The infection extending to the pulp of the tooth irritates the nerve vessels and capillary vessels that supply the tooth. Once infection occurs, the inner pulp gets inflamed thereby causing pain and discomfort. Since the blood, supply in the tooth cuts off, the tooth starts to rot. That is how tooth decays occur.
Risk factors of tooth decay
Tooth decay or cavities can attack almost everyone so long as you have teeth. However, some factors can aggravate tooth decay. Below are some of the risks of tooth decay. Let us have a look that can contribute to tooth decay.
Acidic, sour and sugary foods
These types of food cling to the teeth thereby causing plaque buildup if not rinsed or brushed away to remove them. Such foods include milk products, sugary treats, dry cereals and crisps not forgetting candy and chocolates.
Frequent sipping of sugary drinks
When you overindulge in taking your coffee with a lot of sugar, you put your teeth at a risk. These sugary drinks fuel bacteria to grow and thus consequently produce acids that corrode your teeth over time. Acidic and sour drinks such as wine can also corrode your teeth.
Improper oral hygiene
If you do not brush your teeth twice a day, you are at risk of getting dental problems. Especially the back teeth are the most affected. The molars and premolar are the most affected because they have multiple roots, pits, and many grooves. This makes them harder to clean and sometimes the toothbrush does not reach them when brushing. If you do not perform proper cleaning after consuming sugary products, plaque starts to form and thus tooth decay commences.
Insufficient fluoride intake
Fluoride a mineral that occurs naturally helps fight caries and dental bacteria in addition to prevent teeth stains. Fluoride has the capabilities of even reversing tooth decay in the early stages. Because it is important to the teeth, water companies add fluoride to water during the water treatment process during water treatment. It fortifies mouthwashes and kinds of toothpaste.
In the superpower United States, children suffer from tooth decay the most followed by teens. Senior citizens are also at a risk.
Children and teens suffer tooth decay resulting from insufficient nutrient intake because of restricted diets. In older adults, using different medications can cause tooth decay as some medications affect the teeth and lower saliva production. Such medicines include tetracycline medications. Finally, teeth decay extends to the gums thus exposing the teeth decay.
Dry oral cavity
Lack of saliva exposes the mouth to infection by bacteria. This is so because saliva helps prevent dental decay as it washes away bacteria and plaque formed on the teeth. Components of saliva also counteract the acid produced by bacteria. Certain medication such as chemotherapy can affect saliva production. Headache treatment using radiation also causes saliva production to reduce.
Dental fillings and braces
Dental braces and filling exposes your teeth to breakages and thus weaken your teeth. These dental devices also promote the buildup of plaque making it difficult to clean thus supports tooth decay to advance.
Burning sensation from reflux of stomach acid otherwise known as heartburn can cause tooth decay. Once it flows to the mouth, teeth corrosion occurs because of its acidic nature. The stomach acidic content wears down teeth enamel and causes damage in the end. This acid reflux further exposes teeth to bacterial damage thus leading to tooth decay.
Anorexic and bulimic people suffer from teeth decay resulting from repetitive forced vomiting. The stomach acid contained in the vomit washes their teeth enamel thus corrodes their teeth. Such disorders can lead to decreased saliva production too. Such occurrences provide an ideal habitat for bacteria to thrive.
Complications of tooth decay
Tooth decay poses major health risks to people of different age groups. Children together with adults suffer equally when it comes to tooth decay. Tooth decay can lead to serious health complications if left untreated or if mismanaged. Late diagnosis of tooth decay poses serious health risks and complications.
Complications of dental caries may include:
· Chronic dental pain and sensitivity
· Pus Abscess in the teeth
· Inflammation on the gums and the area around it
· Irregular teeth breakage
· Masticating difficulties
· Asymmetrical jaw alignment after tooth loss
In severe cases of tooth decay, you may experience:
· Severe pain that interrupts daily normal activities
· Loss of weight because of nutritional deficiencies resulting from chronic dental pain
· Low self-esteem after a tooth extraction procedure
Prevention of dental decay can go a long way in the prevention of complications resulting from tooth decay. Common prevention measures include using a soft-bristled toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste. Brush your teeth twice a day and also flossing is important. Also teeth whitening can also help.
Above all, avoid food and drinks that can corrode your teeth. Regular and timely dental visits are also another preventive measure. Proper dental hygiene can help you avoid cavities and tooth decay. Here are some pointers to help you prevent formation of cavities. Visit your dentist today for more information on how to prevent tooth decay.