Tooth decay is also known as dental cavities, it is the destruction of the hard tooth tissue.
For a tooth to decay, four factors are required to be present: a natural tooth or root surface, sugar, bacteria and the passage of time. The bacteria produce acid which further causes tooth decay.
How common is tooth decay at present?
Tooth decay is one of the most common dental diseases which affect a huge portion of the population.
What causes tooth decay?
When bacteria feed on the sugar present in sweet food and refined carbohydrates, this causes the bacteria to grow, divide and increase the amount of plaque. The coating of bacteria that regularly grows on everybody’s teeth is called as Dental Plaque.
The bacteria makes acid after a sugary snack, which further breaks down the tooth surface. The saliva then balances the amount of acid made, but if sugar is eaten often, the effect of the saliva is overcome and the acid causes delay.
A decayed tooth will have various identifications depending on the extent of the decay at first, it can be invisible to see if it happens between the teeth or underneath a filling or crown. It can also be seen as white & chalky or would have become black & brown.
The tooth can become soft & spongy making it more likely to crumble and break due to the loss of mineral of the tooth structure.
Prevention of Tooth Decay
People suffering from diabetes and who eat a large amount of high-sugar or refined carbohydrates can have an increased risk of tooth decay.
The fluoride in toothpaste helps to protect the tooth surface from decay. Floss or small brushes can be used to remove plaque from the areas between the teeth where it can be hard for a toothbrush to reach.
Having regular check-ups with your dentist is also essential for maintaining good oral health. The dentist will check for decay and monitor the health of your gums and the rest of your mouth and give you advice about a good home dental health care program.
Treatment of Tooth Decay
A dentist performs the treatment of dental decay. Generally, the decayed area is extracted and replaced with a metal (amalgam) filling or a plastic tooth-colored (composite) filling. The flexibility of the fillings let them take on the shape of the original tooth and then set hard.
The decay will progress and the tooth may become painful as the decay gets closer to the nerve if left untreated.
If the decay reaches the nerve, your dentist will either need to extract the tooth or perform root canal treatment.