Dental caries is a common health issue. Dental decay or tooth decay, also called dental caries, happens when the enamel and dentin in teeth are softened by acid attack that leads to cavity (hole in the tooth). Dental caries occurs commonly in children, and young people reaching adulthood. In this article, we will discuss dental caries, signs and symptoms, prevention and treatment.
There are certain causes for tooth decay, when sugar in food reacts with the bacteria present in mouth which forms acid. This acid attacks the teeth and begins to dissolve the outer layers of teeth (enamel). Not only are sugary food harmful, there are other food that react with bacteria and or plaque. Acidic and sugary food and drinks increase the risk of decay.
Signs and symptoms
Tooth decay may not show any signs or symptoms in early stages. But there might be toothache or sometimes is visible as a cavity when dentist examines your teeth. Small cavities are much easier and simple to treat instead of making the problem big and treatment more complicated. However, if the decay is major, it has following symptoms:
- When taking hot, cold or sweet food some pain and tenderness is felt.
- Appearance of black spots on your teeth.
- Severe tooth pain.
- Foul (bad) breath
- If there is unpleasant taste in your mouth.
Treatment for dental decay (caries)
If the decay is in early stages, the treatment is simple and easy. The dentist removes the decayed portion with the help of hand piece (dental tool) and filling is done to restore the tooth. If there is an advanced decay, it is treated by root canal treatment. The dentist will remove the infected nerve from the tooth with the help of small dental instruments and filled by a material gutta percha. Then crowning is performed for full restoration of the tooth. If the decay is severe, it infects the other teeth. In such a case, the tooth has to be removed.
Prevention of dental decay
Following are the ways to prevent dental decay.
- Diet plays an important role in oral health, so take healthy and balanced diet as deficiency of some vitamins and minerals also causes gum problems.
- As far as possible, avoid acidic foods and drinks, as they may chemically react with the bacteria in the mouth.
- Drinking water after every meal is a good practice so that there are no left-over food particles in the mouth.
- Before going to bed, brush and floss. This will keep your teeth clean.
- Intake of sugary food should be minimized.
- See dentist once in every six months.
Going for regular checkups is a good practice. Dental caries in early stages can be simply and easily treated. If you ignore dental decay, it leads to more complications later, and may make treatment more difficult.