- by Dr. Ashok Kumar Selva
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- Jun 10 2017
Dental caries-What is it?
What is it?
The scientific term for cavities or tooth decay is Dental caries. It is caused by certain types of bacteria. The tooth's enamel and the layer under it, the dentin is destroyed by acid produced by the bacteria.
Numerous different kinds of bacteria usually live in the human mouth. They grow up on the teeth in an adhesive film called plaque. This plaque also contains other natural substances, bits of food and saliva. It forms most easily in specific places. These involve:
Grooves, cracks or pits in the back teeth
Around dental bridgework or fillings
Near the gum line
The carbohydrates or starches in the foods and sugar that we eat are converted into acids by the bacteria. The minerals in the hard enamel that covers the tooth's crown (the portion you can see) are dissolved by the acid. The enamel dissolves or grows pits. They are too tiny to see at first. But over time, they get larger.
Acid also can trickle through pores in the enamel. This is how decay starts in the main body of the tooth, the softer dentin layer. As the enamel and dentin break down, a cavity is formed.
The bacteria will continue to grow and make acid that finally will get into the inner layer of the tooth, if the decay is not removed. This contains sensitive nerve fibers and the soft pulp.
Tooth roots exposed by diminishing gums also can form decay. Cementum, the outer layer of the root, is not as thick as enamel. Acids from plaque bacteria can dissolve it quickly.
Primary caries may not have any symptoms. Later, the teeth may be sensitive to cold, sweet or hot foods or drinks, when the decay has eaten through the enamel.
At each office visit the dentist will look for caries. To look for areas or pits of damage the dentist will look at the teeth and may examine them with a tool called an explorer. The trouble with these procedures is that they often do not intercept cavities when they are just forming. Sometimes, an explorer can puncture the enamel if too much force is used. This could let the cavity-causing bacteria to advance to healthy teeth.
On a set schedule, your dentist will take X-rays of your teeth, and also if an issue is suspected. They can exhibit newly forming decay, especially between teeth. They also display the more advanced decay, including whether the tooth requires a root canal and whether decay has reached the pulp.
Advanced gadgets also can help to identify tooth decay. They are useful in some conditions, and they do not spread decay. The one most frequently used in dental offices is a liquid stain or dye. Your dentist wipes the nontoxic dye over your teeth, and then washes it off with water. It washes away cleanly from healthy areas but adheres to the decayed areas.
High-tech devices such as lasers are also used by some dentists to detect cavities. Under many circumstances, these gadgets can diagnose very early tooth decay, which can literally be revoked.
Caries detected in the initial stages can be revoked. White spots may show early caries that has not yet rotten through the enamel. If acid damage is stopped and the tooth is given a chance to repair itself naturally, early caries may be reversed.
Caries that has demolished enamel cannot be reversed. Most caries will continue to get adverse and go deeper. With time, the tooth might decay down to the root. The time frequency for this will change from person to person. Caries can rot to a painful level within months or years.
By minimizing the amount of bacteria and plaque in your mouth, is one way you can prevent cavities. The best way to do this is by flossing and brushing every day. You also can use antibacterial mouth rinses to minimize the levels of bacteria that cause cavities. Other washes neutralize the acid in your mouth to make the habitat less friendly to the growth of these bacteria.
By eating sugary or starchy foods less often during the day, you can minimize the amount of tooth-damaging acid in your mouth. For several hours after you eat your mouth will remain acidic. Therefore, you are more likely to block caries if you avoid between-meal snacks.
Chewing gum that has xylitol aids to minimize bacterial growth. Xylitol is not a food source for bacteria, unlike sugar. Other substances also can minimize the acid level in your mouth. Ask your specialist about them.
Another way to decrease your risk of cavities is through the use of fluoride, which toughens teeth. A dentist can estimate your risk of caries and then recommend apt fluoride treatments. Fluoride in water toughens teeth from within, as they grow, and also on the outside. To protect teeth from decay, dentists also can paint fluoride varnish on children's primary teeth.
In adults, molars can be safeguarded with sealants. In children, both permanent molars and baby molars can be secured. As long as the decay has not broken through the enamel, dentists also can use sealants on molars that have initial indications of tooth decay.
Caries is a process. In its initial stages, tooth decay can be terminated. It can even be revoked. Fluorides and other methods of prevention also aid a tooth in initial stages of decay to mend itself or remineralize. White spots are the last stage of initial caries.
There is a break in the enamel, once caries gets worse and only the dentist can mend the tooth. Then filling the tooth is the standard treatment for a cavity. If a drill is used, the dentist will insensate the portion. If a laser is used, a numbing shot is not normally required. The cavity is filled by removing the decayed material in the cavity.
A lot of fillings are made of dental composite resin or amalgam. Amalgam is a silver-gray substance made from copper, silver, mercury, or other metals. Composite resin gives a better look because it is tooth-colored. Newer resins are long-lasting.
Amalgams are used in premolars and molars because the metal is not visible in the back of the mouth. Ceramic and composite materials are used for all teeth.
The remaining tooth may not be able to support adequate filling material to repair it if a cavity is large. In this case, the dentist will discard the decay and cover the tooth with an artificial crown, ceramic inlay or onlay. These may be made in a lab or in the office.
Even if the part of the tooth you can see remains relatively intact, sometimes bacteria may infect the pulp inside the tooth. In this case, a root canal treatment may be required. An endodontist or a general dentist will discard the pulp and substitute it with an immobile material. In many cases, the tooth will require a crown.
If caries is not managed, it likely will cause the tooth to decay remarkably. Finally, uncontrolled decay may demolish the tooth.
Your risk of more caries increases if you have caries for many reasons:
Bacteria cause caries. The more decay you have, the more bacteria prevail in your mouth.
The identical dietary habits and oral care that led to the decay of your teeth will source more decay.
Bacteria are inclined to adhere to fillings and other refurbishments more than to smooth teeth, so those portions will be more likely to have new caries.
Gaps or cracks in the fillings may let food and bacteria to enter the tooth, leading to decay from under the filling.
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