Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the result of an infection with certain types of bacteria that use sugars in food.

1. Tooth decay
Tooth decay camera.gif is damage that occurs when germs bacteria in your mouth make acids that eat away at a tooth. It can lead to a hole in the tooth, called a cavity. If not treated, tooth decay can cause pain, infection, and tooth loss.
A tooth camera.gif has three layers.
The hard outer layer is called enamel.
The middle layer is called dentin.
The center of the tooth is called the pulp. It contains nerves and blood vessels.

2. Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of cavities vary, depending on their extent and location. When a cavity is just beginning, you may not have any symptoms at all. As the decay gets larger, it may cause signs and symptoms such as
  • Toothache
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking something sweet, hot or cold
  • Visible holes or pits in your teeth
  • Brown, black or white staining on any surface of a tooth
  • Pain when you bite down

  • 3. Causes
    Plaque forms. Your mouth naturally contains many types of bacteria. Some thrive on food and drinks that contain certain forms of sugar. When these sugars aren t cleaned off your teeth, the bacteria quickly begin feeding on them and producing acids. The bacteria, form bacterial plaque a sticky film that coats your teeth. If you run your tongue along your teeth, you may be able to feel this plaque forming it s slightly rough and it s more noticeable on your back teeth, especially close to your gums. If the plaque is not removed while it s soft, it becomes hard and difficult to remove a good place for bacteria to hide. Plaque attacks. The acids in plaque remove minerals in your tooth s hard, outer enamel. This erosion causes tiny openings or holes in the enamel the first stage of cavities. Once areas of enamel are worn away, the bacteria and acid can reach the next layer of your teeth, called dentin. This layer is softer than enamel and less resistant to acid.
    Destruction continues. As tooth decay develops, the bacteria and acid continue their march through your teeth, moving next to the inner tooth material pulp that contains nerves and blood vessels. The pulp becomes swollen and irritated from the bacteria. When decay advances to this extent, you may have a severe toothache, sensitivity, pain when biting or other symptoms. Your body also may respond to these bacterial invaders by sending white blood cells to fight the infection. This may result in a tooth abscess a pocket of pus that s caused by a bacterial infection.

    4. Risk factors
  • Tooth location. Decay most often occurs in your back teeth molars and premolars. These teeth have lots of grooves, pits and crannies that can collect food particles. As a result, they re harder to keep clean than your smoother, easy to reach front teeth. Plaque can build and bacteria can thrive between your back teeth, producing the acid that destroys tooth enamel.
  • Certain foods and drinks. Foods that cling to your teeth for a long time such as milk, ice cream, honey, sugar, soda, dried fruit, cake, cookies, hard candy, breath mints, dry cereal, and chips are more likely to cause decay than foods that are easily washed away by saliva.
  • Frequent snacking or sipping. When you steadily snack or sip sodas, you give mouth bacteria more fuel to produce acids that attack your teeth and wear them down. And sipping soda or other acidic drinks throughout the day helps create a continual acid bath over your teeth.

  • 5. Complications
    Cavities and tooth decay are so common that you may not take them seriously. And you may think that it doesn t matter if children get cavities in their baby teeth. However, cavities and tooth decay can have serious and lasting complications, even for children who don t have their permanent teeth yet.
    Complications may include
    Tooth abscess
    Pus around a tooth, especially when you press on your gums
    Broken teeth
    Chewing problems
    Positioning shifts of permanent teeth after losing baby teeth prematurely When cavities and decay become severe, you may have
    Pain that interferes with daily living, preventing you from going to school or work Weight loss or nutrition problems from painful or difficult eating or chewing Tooth loss, which may affect your appearance, as well as your confidence and self esteem In rare cases, a tooth abscess that can cause serious or even life threatening infections

    6. Preparing for your appointment
    If you re experiencing pain or sensitivity in your teeth, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Here s some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your dentist.

    7. Tests and diagnosis
    Your dentist can usually detect tooth decay easily by
    Asking about tooth pain and sensitivity
    Examining your mouth and teeth
    Probing your teeth with dental instruments to check for soft areas
    Looking at dental X rays, which can show the extent of cavities and decay
    Your dentist will also be able to tell you which of the three types of cavities you have smooth surface, pit and fissure, or root.

    8. Treatments and drugs
    Most dentists recommend regular checkups to identify cavities and other dental conditions before they cause troubling symptoms and lead to more serious problems. The sooner you seek care, the better your chances of reversing the earliest stages of tooth decay and preventing its progression. If a cavity is treated before it starts causing pain, you probably won t need extensive treatment.

    9. Prevention
    Good oral and dental hygiene can help you avoid cavities and tooth decay. Below are some tips to help prevent cavities. Ask your dentist which tips are best for you.Brush with fluoride toothpaste after eating or drinking. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and ideally after every meal, using fluoride containing toothpaste. To clean between your teeth, floss or use an interdental cleaner. If you can t brush after eating, at least try to rinse your mouth with water. If you have a young child, ask the dentist how much fluoride toothpaste to put on your child s toothbrush so your child gets the cavity fighting benefits without getting too much fluoride.

    10. Bacteria
    The mouth contains a wide variety of oral bacteria, but only a few specific species of bacteria are believed to cause dental caries Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus species among them. These organisms can produce high levels of lactic acid following fermentation of dietary sugars, and are resistant to the adverse effects of low pH, properties essential for cariogenic bacteria. As the cementum of root surfaces is more easily demineralized than enamel surfaces, a wider variety of bacteria can cause root caries including Lactobacillus acidophilus, Actinomyces spp., Nocardia spp., and Streptococcus mutans. Bacteria collect around the teeth and gums in a sticky, creamy coloured mass called plaque, which serves as a biofilm. Some sites collect plaque more commonly than others, for example sites with a low rate of salivary flow molar fissures. Grooves on the occlusal surfaces of molar and premolar teeth provide microscopic retention sites for plaque bacteria, as do the interproximal sites. Plaque may also collect above or below the gingiva where it is referred to as supra or sub gingival plaque, respectively.

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    Tooth Decay

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