Tooth decay is a common oral disorder. It is an infectious disease induced by extra uptake of sugar and carbohydrates in your routine diet and can occur especially in children, teens and adults.
Tooth decay is the destruction of tooth enamel, generally because of the acid produced by bacteria. Bacteria exist everywhere in oral cavity. These bacteria constantly combine with food debris to form a sticky substance on teeth surface called dental plaque. After meal, the plaque bacteria use sugar that exist in the food and release acids that attack tooth enamel. Repeated attacks cause the enamel to break down, this is when dental cavities can form. Dental cavity is also called Caries.
In the early stages of dental decay there are no symptoms, but when a cavity advances deep into the dentin of tooth, it may increase tooth sensitivity. The visible brown spot on the tooth is an important sign of dental cavity.
Most cavities are discovered in the early stages during routine dental checkups. Whereas, small cavities are much easier to treat than advanced decay, regular dental checkup is advised.
Reduction and treatment of tooth decay is considered in three levels including prevention, remineralization, and dental fill.
Prevention: There are many measures for prevention of tooth decay. The most important ones are:
- Maintaining a healthy diet : Sugary drinks and sweetened foodstuffs or carbohydrates are harmful to teeth
- Maintaining an oral hygiene: Remove dental plaque by brushing and flossing. Use of a mouthwash also helps limit the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth.
Remineralization: Shallow cavities can be reversed by a process called remineralization. In this process, minerals such as fluoride or calcium help reharden tooth enamel. Fluoride makes the enamel more resistant to cavities and can be applied to teeth through fluoride toothpastes, mouthwashes, supplements, fluoridated water, dental office fluoride treatments and varnishes. The amount of fluoride exposure must be carefully controlled because high levels of fluoride can be toxic.
Dental fill: When a cavity is too large to be remineralized, it must be filled by dentists.