Our parents have taught us how to brush properly ever since we were children. This is to avoid tooth decay and cavities. But what is tooth decay? This article tells us more.
Our teeth has several important functions which most of us forget. First of all, our teeth are responsible for chewing food to make food easier to digest by enzymes from our gut. Our teeth also provides shape and form to our jaw and face. This is why we must not neglect our teeth. However, bad oral habits can bring their own share of problems and lead to tooth decay. Tooth decay creates dental cavities which are damaged areas of the tooth that appear as holes in the enamel or the hard surface of the tooth. Cavities are common in children and in young adults. There are three types of cavities: those with a smooth surface which often appear on the sides of the teeth, pit and fissure cavities which appear at the top of the tooth (the one involved in chewing), and root cavities which appear at the root of the teeth below the gums.
Cavities often have symptoms depending on its severity and the type of cavity. At first, one may not notice that the cavity is there. However, he or she may soon experience symptoms as the cavities go larger such as toothaches, sensitivity to heat or cold or sweets, pain on biting down, and black pots or visible holes in the teeth. You can avoid these symptoms by having dental exams every six months so that smaller dental cavities are filled.
Cavities develop because of decay of the tooth. Over time, the enamel or the hard surface of your tooth becomes damaged. The food that you eat may have leftover particles in your teeth and these particles are acted upon by bacteria. The mixture of bacteria and particles further develops into a sticky film called plaque which coats your teeth. This plaque produces acids that can damage your enamel. After the enamel, the dentin is eaten away. Dentin is the softer layer of the teeth and it is easily damaged. This is the time when your cavities should be filled.
If your cavities are not filled, tooth decay continues and may eat away the inside part or the pulp of your tooth. The pulp contains blood vessels and nerves. Tooth decay further causes nerve damage and causes pain, swelling and irritation. There may also be formation of pus as the body's immune system tries hard to rid the tooth of bacteria and decay.
This is why tooth cavities needed to be treated as soon as possible. Fillings and crowns may be procured. Fillings are often made of metal or porcelain while crowns are needed if a large portion of the tooth needs to be removed. If the decay has reached the pulp of the tooth, a root canal may be done to remove the damaged part of the nerve in the root of the tooth and to replace it with a filling. If the tooth is beyond repair, the dentist may suggest tooth extraction. Fluoride treatments apply fluoride to the tooth. Fluoride is a mineral which can strengthen the tooth and make teeth more resistant to decay. It can reverse the early signs of tooth decay. You should take good care of your teeth to prevent cavities. You should use toothpaste with fluoride, brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss daily and limit intake of sweet and sticky food.
Dental Cavities Are Contagious
A new study has shown that dental caries can be passed on from mothers to babies. Mothers with cavities have the capacity to transmit cavity-causing bacteria to their babies when they are cleaning pacifiers by sticking them in their own mouth or by sharing spoons. This study done by researchers from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, mothers should not share their utensils with their children if they have cavities since tooth decay can affect child performance and later success in life.
To know more on how to take care of your teeth and mouth, feel free to browse our other articles on this site.