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Tooth Decay

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Tooth Decay

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay commonly known as cavities refers to the permanently damaged areas in the hard façade of one's teeth that usually develop into small openings. This situation is normally caused by a number of factors such as sipping sugary drinks, regular snacking, not cleaning one's mouth as required and the presence of bacteria in the mouth. Tooth decay is more common in children, adolescents and older adults. However, anybody with teeth has the potential of getting cavities.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of tooth decay differ depending on its extent and the location of the cavity. A dentist may assist in seeing the beginning of decay and may recommend steps aimed at keeping it from worsening. This is because one may not have any symptoms at all when a cavity is starting. When the decay gets larger, signs and symptoms that are experiencing include toothache, tooth sensitivity, pus around the tooth when one presses on his gums, pain when biting down, noticeable holes in the teeth and mild to sharp pain when one eats or drinks a hot, cold or sweet food.


Cavities are commonly caused by tooth decay which occurs over time due to bacteria that damages the enamel of the teeth. This process may happen without any obvious anxiety then deepens to the deeper layers of the teeth in three steps: formation of a plaque by the bacteria, acids, saliva and food particles, then plaque attacks through erosion causing tiny openings in the enamel and lastly, destruction of the teeth by the bacteria continues, where the bacteria and acid march through the teeth and into the pulp containing nerves and blood vessels. This leads to tooth abscess.

Risk factors

Cavities are one of our most widespread universal health troubles. Anybody with teeth is at risk of getting tooth decay. However, factors that can increase risk of tooth decay include tooth location, certain foods and drinks, frequent snacking or sipping, bedtime infant feeding, inadequate brushing of teeth,  not getting enough fluoride, younger or older age, dry mouth, dental devices or worn fillings, eating disorders, heartburn and certain cancer treatments.


Tooth decay are so common in people that they are often taken lightly, others may feel that it does not matter if their young ones get cavities in their baby teeth. However, cavities and tooth decay have serious and long-lasting complications in both adults and children such as pain, tooth abscess, tooth loss, broken teeth, chewing problems and serious infections.

Further, when the cavities become painful, ones daily living becomes hampered as such pain may prevent him or her from going to work or even school. One might lose weight as it becomes difficult to eat or chew. Very painful cavities that affect the appearance or lead to tooth loss also interferes with one's self esteem and confidence and in exceptional cases, an abscess form a cavity can lead to life threatening infections if not treated well.


Treating cavities depend on how severe they are and the particular situation of the patient. Options for treatment include fluoride treatments as fluoride is a mineral that assists the teeth repair themselves during initial stages of damage, fillings, crowns, root canals and tooth extractions.


Maintaining proper oral and dental hygiene help in keeping the teeth intact by avoiding cavities and tooth decay. Tips that help in preventing cavities include brushing teeth after eating or drinking, rinsing the mouth with fluoride on recommendation of a dentist, regular visit to a dentist, consider dental sealants, drink some tap water, avoid frequent snacking and sipping, eat tooth healthy foods, consider fluoride treatments especially if one is not getting enough fluoride and ask about antibacterial treatments.