Tooth decay is a chronic bacterial disease that is one of the most common diseases affecting children and adults worldwide. It is also known as dental cavities, cavities, or caries. Decay occurs when minerals from saliva and plaque fluid demineralize tooth enamel.
Symptoms of Tooth Decay
Tooth decay causes holes in the teeth and may lead to pain and tooth loss. Signs of decay include:
- Loss of luster or shiny appearance on the surface of teeth
- A cavity or dark spot on your tooth’s surface
- Toothache, when the decay involves nerve tissue
- Sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks
- Loose tooth or teeth
- Sores on your gums that don’t heal quickly
If the decay has caused a large hole, you may be able to see a dark spot in the center of your tooth. An open cavity spot is where decay reaches the tooth’s nerve.
Causes of Tooth Decay
Dental carries are caused by a sticky film called plaque. Plaque contains bacteria that feed on the sugars and starches you eat, producing acids as a waste product. The bacteria use these acids to dissolve tooth enamel. Over time, the acid destroys the hard surface until a hole forms. Many factors contribute to the development of decay.
- Aging process
- Dry mouth (xerostomia)
- Frequently drinking sugary drinks, such as sodas and sports drinks
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Tooth brushing habits
- Poor eating habits
- Lack of fluoride exposure
Treatment of Tooth Decay
In the early stages of decay, a dentist or dental hygienist can remove the decayed part of a tooth and fill it with a filling. A root canal treatment may be needed to repair the tooth in more advanced cases. The dentist will drill out the inside nerve and pulp from the top down until all that remains is a hollow shell. Then, the dentist or a dental specialist will clean and disinfect the inside of the tooth and take a mold of it.
Prevention of Tooth Decay
The best way to prevent decay is to brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes and always after eating. It would be best if you also flossed once a day or used an interdental cleaner. Limit how much sugar you eat and drink, which can help decrease the frequency of decay. If possible, you should avoid letting sugary foods and drinks sit on your teeth for a long time. Finally, remember to schedule regular checkups with your dentist or dental hygienist.