What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay or cavities or dental caries occurs since the enamel and its underlying layer called dentine are attacked by particular types of bacteria producing acid after you have eaten or drunk anything containing sugars.
There are several types of bacteria which can form most easily in certain places in our mouth including cracks, pits or grooves in the back teeth; between teeth; around dental fillings or bridgework; and near the gum line. After that, the acid will create a hole in your tooth. If it is not treated, it can lead to pain, infection, and tooth loss.
Children are more probably at higher risk of getting the problem than adults due to their developing teeth which have the not strong minerals enough and more easy to be attacked by acids.
Even teeth of babies can be attacked by dental caries because of sugar in milk, formula, or juice, or due to their parents sharing spoons, forks, or their utensils with them.
Cavities is caused as sugars in food or drinks respond to the bacteria in plaque, producing acids. The acids will gradually attack your teeth and commence to soften and dissolve the enamel. The attacks can remain for an hour or even more after eating or drinking, before the natural salts in your saliva support your enamel for “remineralising” and solidifying.
In addition, not only does sugars react with plaque, but also other types of carbohydrate foods and drinks do.
Having sugary or acidic snacks and drinks between meals can make your chance of getting tooth decay higher, since your teeth are put under ceaseless attack and have not enough time to recover.
Several other reasons from yourself also leading to cavities may include:
– Smoking using smokeless tobacco or breathing secondhand smoke
– Not brushing and flossing your teeth daily
– Not regularly taking dental check-ups and cleanings
– Not having enough fluoride which helps your teeth be more protective against acids
– Not having enough saliva which helps you prevent not only tooth decay but also dry mouth
– Having diabetes.
In early stages, you may see no signs of tooth decay until your enamel are attacked, you will then feel your teeth’s sensitivity to sweet, acidic, hot or cold food and drinks.
Tooth decay may have different symptoms, depending on the cavities’ location and extent:
– Tooth sensitivity
– Apparent holes in your teeth
– Pain as eating or drinking something sweet, hot or cold and when chewing
– Staining on any surface of a tooth
– Bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
– Swelling in your gums near a sore tooth
If the decay gets near the dental pulp, you may have toothache which could last for only a few seconds with hot or sweet things. Once the decay approaches closer to the dental pulp, you will want to use painkillers such as paracetamol to reduce the longer pain. It is better for you not to wait until this time to see your dentist if you do not want your teeth to die.
Even though there is no symptoms of cavities in the early stages, your dentist still can figure it out by examinations and X-ray on your teeth.
Therefore, if you have a toothache, it is important to contact your dentist in order to see whether you get tooth decay or not.