How to get rid of cavities |Tooth decay

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Cavities in teeth

Definition

Cavities refer to tooth decay, dental caries or tooth decay which occurs when specific types of bacteria produce acid that destroys the tooth’s enamel and the dentin which is its underlying layer and changes the tooth color from white to yellow to black depending upon the severity and time period.

cavities

Signs & Symptoms

A person can easily judge if he/she is suffering from this disease or not. Below written are the various signs and symptoms which indicate cavity initiation. these are as follows.

  1. Patient experiences pain in the tooth called as toothache,

2. tooth sensitivity to sweet, hot or cold foods or drinks

Tooth sensitivity or  dentin hypersensitivity is experienced when the enamel that acts as a protector of our teeth gets thinner, or when gum recession occurs, exposing the underlying  dentin layer. Hence it can affect both tooth as well the exposed root surfaces. Tooth sensitivity affects up to 57% of the population.

Signs & Symptoms of tooth sensitivity

If tooth experiences sensitivity or pain during intake of  hot, cold, sweet or very acidic foods and drinks, or breathing in cold air. Tooth sensitivity can come and go over time.

Cause

There are many causes of tooth sensitivity, including:

  • Worn tooth enamel from using a hard toothbrush or brushing too aggressively
  • Tooth erosion due to highly acidic foods and beverages
  • Tooth erosion due to bulimia or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Gum recession that leaves your root surface exposed

Diagnosis

Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing gums from receding and causing sensitive-tooth pain. gums may become sensitive if brushing technique is incorrect.

Prevention

Brushing properly twice daily for 2 minutes with toothpaste and flossing once a day, can help reduce the chance of tooth sensitivity. A diet low in acidic foods and drinks also helps prevent tooth sensitivity.

Treatment

 Toothpaste  without high levels of abrasives, at-home, brush-on fluoride gel or a fluoride rinse, or high fluoride level toothpaste are formulated to make tooth less sensitive and provide extra protection against decay.  fluoride varnishes can be painted onto the teeth to provide added protection.

Related Conditions

There are several conditions which can cause pain, but which are not tooth sensitivity:

  • Dental caries
  • A cracked or chipped tooth
  • Grinding or clenching the teeth
  • Leakage around restorations
  • External tooth bleaching

consumption of too much acid in drinks and foods, could wear away the dental enamel and expose the dentin that lies underneath the dental enamel.

What is Enamel Erosion? 
Enamel erosion occurs when the enamel of the teeth is worn away by a chemical acid process. There are two types of enamel erosion:

  1. Intrinsic erosion : Caused by gastric acid and acid regurgitation due to medical or psychological issues (e.g., acid reflux, anorexia, bulimia, etc.).
  2. Extrinsic erosion : Occurs when dietary acids (e.g., sugar consumption, diet sodas, fruit drinks, carbonated drinks, etc.) contribute to challenge the mouth to be in a very acidic state.
  3. Pain when chewing

 

Cause of cavities formation

Many different types of bacteria live in our mouths and build up on the teeth in a sticky film called dental plaque. When we eat and drink, these bacteria create acids, which can dissolve the protective layer beneath the retained plaque. The acid removes minerals from the enamel, which if left untreated can cause a cavity. Decay begins in the main portion of the tooth (the enamel) and as the enamel is broken down the decay can go deeper into the dentin and can eventually reach the nerve (pulp) of the tooth.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of the cavities canbe made  by examining the tooth surface and by taking an x-ray to see if the cavity has gone from the enamel into the dentin or pulp of the tooth.

Prevention

There are a variety of ways to help prevent cavities which include:

  • Brushing and flossing daily; this will help reduce the amount of dental plaque and bacteria in your mouth.
  • Eating sugary or starchy foods less often during the day to help reduce the amount of tooth-damaging acids in your mouth.
  • Use of fluoride toothpaste, which strengthens teeth, as well as fluoride treatments provided by the dentist or taking fluoride supplements as recommended by the dentist.
  • Using antibacterial mouth rinses to reduce the levels of bacteria that cause cavities.
  • Chewing gum that contains xylitol. this can help decrease bacterial growth.

How to protect sweet tooth

Brush Often

To keep your teeth clean, you should:

  • Carry a portable or disposable toothbrush with you at all times.
  • Change your toothbrush at home. If you consume a lot of sweets, chances are you’re at risk for more plaque buildup than the average person, since plaque thrives in a carbohydrate-rich environment. Toothbrushes with triple-action bristles and diamond-shaped heads are designed to be better at cleaning hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. Powered toothbrushes can also make brushing more comfortable and enjoyable.

Other Tips

For those without the means or willingness to carry a toothbrush around, here are some other things to consider:

  • Use a mouthrinse to remove as much sugar and sticky residue as possible. While mouthrinses that contain fluoride are ideal, even swishing plain water around your mouth can help when no other option is available.
  • Chew a sugar-free gum after eating sweets to help clean your teeth. The gum will increase the production of saliva, aiding in removing any sugar coating the teeth.
  • Choose less sugary snacks. Obviously, fruits are a healthy way to satisfy a craving for sweets, but for those who don’t want to substitute a banana for a donut, there are still some choices you can make to lessen the risk of cavities. For example, a slice of pound cake will not coat the mouth in sticky sugar for quite as long as a chocolate fudge brownie or piece of gooey taffy.

The key to prevent cavities after eating sugary foods is simply to prevent the mouth from remaining coated in the acid-forming sugars and other carbohydrates found in sweets after eating.

Treatment

In adults, dentists can apply sealants on molars that have early signs of tooth decay, as long as the decay has not broken through the enamel. In more serious cases, a root canal may be necessary.

In children, both baby molars and permanent molars can be sealed. Dentists can also apply fluoride varnish on both primary and permanent teeth to protect them from decay.

Complications

If left untreated, a cavity will cause the tooth to decay significantly. Eventually, uncontrolled decay may destroy the tooth completely. There is also the risk of developing an infection related to an abscess when the infection spreads to the root of the tooth.

Related Conditions

Cavities are a result of poor oral hygiene and retained dental plaque on the tooth surface. Specific bacteria in plaque cause decay. Because cavities can penetrate deep into the tooth structure as far as the nerve, you may also experience sensitivity with certain foods and drinks.

Various materials used for cavity filling

Below written are a few examples of the materials which can be used for cavity filling along with their brief description

1. Dental Sealants

What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are plastic coatings that are usually placed on the chewing (occlusal) surface of the permanent back teeth — the molars and premolars — to help protect them from decay. Dental sealants can be clear, white or have a slight tint depending upon the dental sealant used.

Reason for placing dental  sealants
The chewing surfaces of the molar and premolar teeth have grooves — “fissures” — that make them vulnerable to decay. These fissures can be deep, are difficult to clean, and can be narrower than even a single bristle of a toothbrush. Plaqueaccumulates in these areas, and the acid from bacteria in the plaque attacks the enamel and cavities can develop. Fluoride helps prevent decay and helps protect all the surfaces of the teeth, dental sealants provide extra protection for the grooved and pitted areas by providing a smooth surface covering over the fissured area.

Placement of dental sealants
Firstly the tooth surface is thoroughly cleaned with a paste and rotating brush by your dentist or hygienist. Next the tooth is washed with water and dried. Then a solution that is acidic is placed on the fissured area of the tooth’s chewing surface for a number of seconds before being rinsed off. This creates small microscopic areas and a fine rougher surface than the surrounding tooth enamel, that can be seen with a microscope. The rough surface and microscopic areas enable the dental sealant to attach to the tooth. After the tooth is dried again, the liquid dental sealant is placed on the tooth and hardened. Dental sealants are hardened by using a light that hardens the dental sealant, or sometimes by using a two-component dental sealant that sets without using a light. Once the dental sealant has hardened it becomes a hard plastic varnish coating, and you can chew on the tooth again.

2. Fluoride

What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral found throughout the earth’s crust and widely distributed in nature. Some foods and water supplies contain fluoride.

Fluoride is often added to drinking water to help reduce tooth decay.

How Does Fluoride Work?
Fluoride helps prevent cavities in two different ways:

  • Fluoride concentrates in the growing bones and developing teeth of children, helping to harden the enamel on baby and adult teeth before they emerge
  • Fluoride helps to harden the enamel on adult teeth that have already emerged

Fluoride works during the demineralization and remineralization processes that naturally occur in your mouth.

  • After you eat, your saliva contains acids that cause demineralization a dissolving of the calcium and phosphorous under the tooth’s surface
  • At other times when your saliva is less acidic it does just the opposite, replenishing the calcium and phosphorous that keep your teeth hard. This process is caused remineralization. When fluoride is present during remineralization, the minerals deposited are harder than they would otherwise be, helping to strengthen your teeth and prevent dissolution during the next demineralization phase

How do I Know if I’m Getting Enough Fluoride?
If your drinking water is fluoridated, then brushing regularly with a fluoride toothpaste is considered sufficient for adults and children with healthy teeth at low risk of decay.

If your community’s water is not fluoridated and does not have enough natural fluoride in it (1 part per million is considered optimal), then your dentist or pediatrician may prescribe fluoride tablets or drops for your children to take daily. Your dentist or pediatrician can tell you how much fluoride is right for your family, so be sure to ask for his or her advice.

If your water comes from a public water supply, you can find out if it’s fluoridated by calling your local water district. If your water comes from a private well, you can have it analyzed by an independent environmental testing company that provides water-testing services.

How To Limit The Effects Of Sugar On Teeth

Cookies, cakes, candies and sodas  effect the teeth of a person. Below written is the brief discussion about the harmful affects of sugar on teeth.

Acid Attacks

When you eat or drink sugary foods – refined, processed or in the form of carbohydrates –Bacteria in your mouth digest the foods you eat and specifically feed on the sugar, producing acids that can slowly dissolve tooth enamel and cause tooth decay. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), these acids do the most damage to your teeth for 20 minutes after eating; this is what is known as an “acid attack.” So the more sugary foods you eat throughout the day, the more your teeth are exposed to decay-causing acids.

Sensible Food Choices

Consider the following dietary adjustments:

  • Eat a nutritious and balanced diet of grains, fruits, vegetables, protein and low-fat dairy.
  • Check food labels for “hidden” sugars.
  • Limit between-meal snacks.
  • Avoid sugary foods that stay in your mouth for a long time, like hard, sticky or chewy varieties of candy.
  • Offer healthy snacks, such as cheese, fruits, yogurt, peanut butter, chocolate milk and sugarless gum.
  • Save your sugary treats for the end of a meal or before a tooth-brushing session, rather than throughout the day.
  • Substitute water for sugar-laden sodas and fruit juices.

Preventive Care and Early Detection

Schedule regular dental checkups and cleaning appointments for your family; this way, any signs of tooth decay can be taken care of early. The Academy of General Dentistry’s (AGD) George McLaughlin, DMD, recommends placing sealants on children’s permanent first molars as soon as they appear in the mouth. This thin coating acts as a barrier on the chewing surface of the tooth, and protects it from decay-producing acids.

 

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