The most common causes of tooth decay are cavities, which most of us ignore until they start to hurt. That’s the wrong way to go about it, and we’ll explain why.
Different Parts of the Tooth
Each tooth in your mouth consists of two major parts – the crown and the root. The crown is the visible part of a tooth while the root is the portion that you cannot see, since it is anchored within the bone.
Within these sections, a tooth is composed of four different kinds of tissues, which are:
- Enamel – Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body and is charged with the task of protecting your teeth against the wear and tear of chewing. It is the durable covering that makes up the protective outer surface of the crown of a tooth.
- Dentin – Dentin consists of a yellow bone-like material that makes up most of the inner surface of a tooth. It supports the enamel and carries some nerve fibers of the teeth too.
- Pulp – The term ‘pulp’ is used to define a soft tissue at the center of the tooth that contains blood, nerves and lymph vessels.
- Cementum – This tissue covers most of the root of a tooth and helps it attach to the bones in the jaw.
What Does Your Oral Cavity Contain?
The oral cavity is the structure within your mouth that allows you to taste, chew, and swallow food, as well as form words. It consists of two alveolar arches, which hold teeth, and is bordered at the back by the isthmus and the fauces. Other parts of the oral cavity include the floor of the mouth, lips, check mucosa, hard palate and mobile tongue.
How Does Your Tooth Decay?
Bacteria which are normally found in the mouth change carbohydrates (starch and sugar) into acid. This acid combines with food particles and saliva to form plaque, a sticky substance that adheres to the teeth. Plaque forms after every meal and snack and begins to build up on the teeth 20 minutes after eating.
If not removed, the acid in the plaque begins to damage the enamel covering the teeth and creates holes in the tooth, which are referred to as cavities or caries. These are basically permanent structural damages to the outer surface of the teeth that develop into tiny openings or holes.
A cavity can affect part of a tooth or the entire tooth, depending on how early it is detected and treated. It begins as a white spot, then spreads to the enamel, dentin and cementum, and can even cause an abscess if left untreated, so make sure you include regular dental check-ups in your schedule!
Prevention of Cavities
Aside from good brushing and flossing habits, the best way to prevent cavities is to treat the onset of tooth decay before it develops into a cavity. Therefore, regular dental checkups are necessary whether or not your mouth is feeling fine. Through a dental checkup, the earliest sign of tooth decay (which is indicated by a soft tooth surface) can be detected and appropriately addressed.
Other preventative measures that can help prevent cavities include:
Use of Fluorides – Oral fluorides taken in the form of fluoride tablets or fluoridated water are recommended by dentists to protect against cavities. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by filling the pores of immature enamel or small early cavities.
Following a Proper Diet – Since cavities are caused by sugary, starchy, chewy, and sticky foods, practicing good eating habits can help prevent cavities too. This includes consuming fewer foods that cause cavities, as well as avoiding snacks between meals.
Using Sealants – Sealants are thin plastic-like coatings applied on the surfaces of molars and premolars to prevent the buildup of plaque in the deep grooves of these teeth. Sealants are normally applied on the teeth of young children shortly after their molars come in, however, they can also be used by adults when prescribed by a dentist.
Treatment of Cavities
The ideal treatment for a cavity depends on how extensively it has spread. Generally, the less advanced the cavity, the less pain and expense you will have to bear for the treatment. Various cavity treatment options that your dentists may suggest include:
- Fillings – In the case of not-so-serious cavities, your dentist can remove the decayed tooth material with a drill and replace it with fillings made of gold, silver, alloy, porcelain or composite resin. All of these materials are completely safe, but porcelain and composite fillings are preferred since they closely match the appearance of natural teeth.
- Root Canals – This procedure is necessary when the nerves in a tooth have died because of a cavity. The dentist will remove portions of the damaged tooth along with the nerve and blood vessel tissues at the center of the tooth. The roots will be filled with a sealing material and a crown placed over the filled tooth.
- Crowns – When a cavity is so bad that there is minimal tooth structure remaining, a treatment which includes fitting a crown (made of porcelain, gold or porcelain fused to metal) will be required. This procedure includes the removal and repair of the entire damaged area followed by the fitting of a crown over the remaining part of the tooth.
Cavities that are left untreated can lead to severe toothaches, pain while eating, infections and eventual tooth loss. The bottom line is – cavities are really no fun at all, so make sure you get immediate dental attention. Call Monarch Dental Clinic at +917016730440 to book your treatment today!