It’s well-known that tooth decay (also known as cavity or dental caries) looks like a hole in the tooth, but did you know how the tooth decay process starts and how to avoid such an unpleasant thing?
Basically, dental caries is damage caused by bacteria in your mouth because your tooth enamel is weakened by sweet and acid foods and drinks. Actually, it is okay for healthy people to have some bacteria in their mouth, because some of them are helpful, some of them help to keep our immune system working, but some bacteria can bring serious harm to your teeth health when there appear to be myriads of them due to improper mouth hygiene and bad diet. It goes without saying that tooth decay is best prevented than cured, so it’s very important to take care of your teeth health and visit your dentist regularly to block dental caries on initial stage.
Dental caries is an extremely widespread problem: World Health Organization states that about 96-98% or people worldwide have ever faced with this problem. Mostly tooth decay appears in children, teenagers and seniors. If not treated timely, dental caries may lead to severe pain, infection, tooth loss and even serious complications.
Let’s learn more about the causes of tooth decay:
You might have heard about bacterial plaque, right? It’s a transparent sticky substance that is continuously forming on our teeth and gums all the time. It mostly consists of bacteria that enjoy sweets, starch and carbohydrates just like we do and produce different acids that accumulate on our teeth and over time destroy the tooth enamel.
But there should be natural protecting factors otherwise bacteria would win every single battle. Sure there are: minerals in our saliva (phosphate and calcium) and fluoride we consume with foods or liquids or get from toothpaste.
Photo 1. The causes of Caries.
In case we eat lots of carbohydrates, enjoy snacking, fail to brush our teeth thoroughly twice a day and floss the space between them and use mouth-washing liquids — acids. Of course, there are lots of other factors, like:
But keep in mind that wrong nutrition (high in carbs, sugars and starch) along with lack of mouth hygiene are the most popular factors that lead to cavities.
Photo 2. Use of fluoride gel.
Now it’s time to learn more about the tooth structure to speak about tooth decay severance:
So the more layers are destroyed by tooth decay, the more unpleasant consequences it may have.
Photo 3. The main stages of caries development.
As a rule, early tooth decay doesn’t bring pain and doesn’t have any clear visible symptoms. The tooth enamel looks ok with the naked eye. However, dental caries, as any other disease, has its own symptoms - unfortunately they become apparent when the decay is already in progress and the dentin is affected. Among most obvious symptoms of progressive dental caries there are: black spot on the enamel, pain when eating or drinking something hot or cold or bite down and so on.
To reveal the early tooth decay symptoms you should consult your dentist. At the appointment you will be asked about tooth pain and sensitivity, then your mouth and teeth will be examined and probed with special dental instruments to check for soft areas. You may have to undergo the dental X-ray procedure to prevent extent tooth decay and cavities. If you have early tooth decay, your dentist will specify its type: whether it is a smooth surface dental caries, or a pit, fissure or root dental caries.
Photo 4. Regular visits to the dentist for caries prevention.
It’s better to make an appointment to the dentist twice a year, but be sure you examine your teeth regularly on your own. You may notice a white spot on the tooth — usually it’s a sign of demineralization, but it’s not a 100% clear symptom of dental caries, white spots may be a sign of some other health troubles.
Anyway, if you have noticed such a spot — it’s a good reason to be examined by a dentist, because at this point tooth decay can be relatively easily stopped and treated.
Tooth enamel has a great option of repairing itself using macronutrients from saliva and fluoride from water or toothpaste. Using special medications, the process of tooth decay can be blocked. However, if you let it go on, the demineralization will continue and the tooth enamel won’t be able to resist tooth decay process, so you are most likely to get a cavity. Cavities can’t be treated, only repaired by a dentist with a special composite filling.