Tooth decay is a very common problem that is faced by almost everybody at some point of time in their life. The damage to the tooth occurs when acids produced by the germs in the mouth eats the tooth. Typically, it leads to a hole in the tooth known as cavity. A tooth has three layers the outer hard layer is called the enamel, the middle layer is the dentin and the centermost part of the tooth is called pulp which contains the nerves. The severity of the tooth decay depends on how many layers of the tooth get affected. If tooth decay is not treated in due time, it can cause infection, severe pain and can even lead to loss of tooth.
The treatment for tooth decay depends on how much a tooth is damaged. If tooth decay is diagnosed at an early stage, a proper treatment can prevent further damage. In many cases, the tooth decay leads to the destruction of the enamel and formation of cavity. In such cases, the usual treatment is to remove the decayed part of the tooth and replace it with a filling. If the tooth decay is in advanced stages, then a root canal treatment may be necessary. In case the tooth has damaged beyond repair then your doctor will remove it.
Let us discuss all these treatment in brief here for a better understanding:
It is perhaps among the most popularly used and effective treatment that is there to prevent the occurrence of tooth decay. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in foods and drinks. However, it can also be synthesized artificially. The fluoride present in most toothpaste is the synthetic variety. Fluoride helps in protecting the tooth by fortifying the enamel and thereby making it more resistant to acids produced by bacteria which are the prime reason for tooth decay. It also acts as a suppressant for the bacteria and reduces their ability to produce acid that causes tooth decay. If the tooth decay is in its early stages, your dentist will apply a concentrated fluoride gel on the affected teeth that will enhance the repair of the enamel and will re-mineralize it.
Filling and Crowns:
If the decay of the tooth is at an advanced stage, it might be necessary to make use of a filling or crown to repair it. A filling actually replaces the enamel that has been damaged. There are a number of filling materials that one can choose from, like amalgam which is silver colored, glass ionomer which is tooth colored and many more. In certain cases the use of inlays and onlays made of gold is also recommended to fill the teeth. These are so designed that they fill the shape and size of the cavity and are typically fixed in place with dental cement. Since, gold is the most durable of metals; it is the most long lasting filling material.
In case, the tooth is extensively damaged, the decayed portion is removed using a drill and a crown is placed over the remaining tooth. You can choose from metal crowns, porcelain crown or crowns made with a combination of the two.
Root Canal Treatment and Tooth Extraction:
The root canal treatment is performed when even the pulp of the tooth is damaged. The pulp is replaced with an artificial pulp and is then topped with a crown. In even severe condition when the decayed tooth is beyond repair it has to be extracted. It can then be replaced with a bridge, denture or an implant.
In order to ensure good health of the teeth, once should ensure to at least brush the teeth and floss them everyday.
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