Tooth decay is the process resulting into a cavity (dental caries) when bacterial activity in mouth makes acids that eat away at a tooth. A tooth has an outer layer (enamel), a middle layer (dentin), and a center (pulp). Plaque is a sticky substance formed on your teeth and gums that contains bacterial presence. These bacteria make acid (through fermentation of sugars present in your food), that destroys tooth enamel resulting in tooth decay. Tooth decay causes cavity formation or infected tooth resulting in toothache. The more layers that are affected by decay, the worse the damage. Once the pulp begins to decay, tooth eventually dies, since pulp is highly supplied by nerves and blood vessels. Left untreated, tooth decay can cause pain, infection, and tooth loss.
Your saliva helps prevent tooth decay. It reduces damage of bacterial acid in mouth to a tooth by washing away sticky, sugary foods that feed bacteria. The minerals in saliva also can help repair the tooth and ensures removal of bacterial acid from tooth surface.
Severe tooth decay leads to formation of pus-filled sac (abscess) in the bone at the base of a tooth characterized by symptoms fever, swollen jaw, swollen glands and a deep throb ling pain.
Common symptoms of tooth decay include
· Irritation in tooth pulp
· Bad breath/foul taste in the mouth.
· White, gray, brown, or black spots on the teeth.
· Loose fillings.
· A broken tooth or sensitivity to pressure.
Risk of tooth decay increases when dental hygiene is not maintained, eating food with high sugar content such as caramel, raisins, cake, sugar-coated cereal, cookies, pastries, grains, pasta, bread . Lack of fluoride in drinking water also increases the risk of tooth decay.
Tooth decay is diagnosed through tooth examination and X-ray examination by dentist.
Early treatment ensures early cure in tooth decay.
Visit your dentist when you experience tooth ache or swelling in gum. Your dentist can fill cavities using filling in mild tooth decay. Severe tooth decay requires crown or root canal treatment to remove pulp from teeth and fill the pulp cavity with filling.
Start dentist visit and dental care from 12 years of age and visit your dentist once every six months. Eat food that is low in saturated fat and sodium. Avoid between meal snacks and snacks before bedtime.