Tooth decay is one of the most frequently reported dental problems in a clinic. (Caries: Latin for decay or rot) It may be as small as a symptomless black spot on the enamel surface or grossly decayed tooth in pain. Dental caries affects children and adult alike and are present in approximately 90% of the population. Prevention or early treatment of dental caries may save the tooth in time.
What Cause Tooth Decay?
3 critical factors creating dental caries are:
Oral cavity is a complex system comprising saliva, food residuals, bacteria and its products, creating a favourable environment for bacterial growth. The bacteria feed on sugar and forms acid which leads to de-mineralization of enamel structure. In course of time, enamel weakens, leading to cavitation in tooth. The minerals present in saliva (calcium, phosphate) and fluorides from toothpastes try to re-mineralise the tooth structure lost from the acid attack and this two-way dynamic process constantly goes in the oral cavity throughout the day.
Progression of Dental Caries:
Initial loss of minerals from tooth structure visible as a white spot on the surface, is reversible if detected. If left untreated, it forms cavity which requires restoration to prevent further decay. Type of restoration or necessity of RCT (Root Canal Treatment) depends on the extent of caries, established by X-Ray.
7 Top Tips To Keep Teeth Healthy
#1 Don't forget brushing at night: Brushing before going to bed is as important as in morning because food particles left stuck to teeth for night gives ample time to bacteria to feast upon! Rinsing after every meal is crucial to remove plaque build-up.
#2 Mouthwash and fluoridated toothpastes: Using an antiseptic mouthwash keeps bacterial colonies in control and fluoridated toothpaste increases re-mineralization of lost tooth structure.
#3 Floss daily: Without flossing, 40% of your teeth surface are never cleaned! The American Dental Association had advised to floss at least once daily to prevent dental caries and gum diseases.
#4 Pay attention to your teeth and gums: Consult a dentist when you see inflammation in gums or blood while brushing. Never ignore pain or sensitivity in tooth. An initial caries which could’ve been saved by non-invasive ways, may go to extensive treatment procedures if left untreated. Don't forget to ask your dentist about preventive dentistry when you visit next time.
#5 Have a balanced diet with controlled use of sugar and sticky stuff. Rinse properly after eating every meal.
#6 Ask your dentist about pit and fissure sealants: Sealants are thin coating applied to your teeth on chewing surfaces which creates a barrier between teeth and oral fluid. This is a very effective method to prevent dental caries especially in children.
#7 Schedule an appointment with your dentist: An incipient caries may go unnoticed by you. Thus, an early diagnosis by a professional may save your tooth in time, as the saying goes,
prevention is better than cure !
Dr. Akanksha Abhishek
Chief Dental Consultant
The Tooth Doctors