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Your mouth is the breeding place for various bacteria. These bacteria use the sugar in food and turn them into acids. These acids then react with a tooth, gradually drilling a hole in it, which is infamously known as a tooth cavity.
You might wonder why exactly this happens. When your teeth are subjected to acid frequently, the repeated acid attacks on the enamel, the enamel starts losing its minerals. The first sign of tooth decay is when a white spot appears on the tooth. This white spot is the area from where the enamel has lost its minerals. If not taken care of from the time this early sign of decay makes an appearance, then the decay just gets more serious and the white spot will turn into a cavity. Here are some tips to avoid tooth decay altogether:
1. Use fluoride based toothpaste and mouthwash: Fluoride prevents tooth decay from maturing. It can even reverse or stop tooth decay which is in its early stage. It also protects the tooth from further decay and replenishes the lost minerals from the enamel and prevents any further loss. It also reduces the acid making ability of the bacteria present in the mouth.
2. Keep a check on food: Keep a study check on what you are eating. If you eat too much junk food or food which contains a lot of sugar regularly, then suffering from tooth decay is inevitable. Try to limit those foods to maybe once or twice a week.
3. Brush your teeth: Brush your teeth regularly, preferably with fluoride toothpaste. Not only will the fluoride toothpaste protect your teeth, but the toothbrush will also take out any food particle stuck between two teeth. Brush at least twice a day or preferably after every meal and before bed.
4. Use dental floss: Clean in between your teeth with dental floss.
5. Eat cheese: Cheese contains casein which prevents tooth decay or cavity formation.
6. Visit your dentist regularly: Make sure you visit your dentist regularly to keep your teeth healthy.
Those who have experienced it would vouch for the fact that toothache is one of the worst pains. There could be times when the attack happens out of nowhere and you are crying for relief.
The tooth has 2 parts - the visible part called the crown and the invisible part called the root which is embedded in the jaw bone and covered by the gums.
Both the crown and the root have 3 layers from inside out. The crown has enamel, dentin, and pulp. The enamel is the mineralized part of the tooth, dentin has fine sensory dentinal tubules, and the pulp receives nerve and blood supply to the tooth through a small orifice at the end of the tooth called the apex. On the root surface, instead of enamel, there is a softer substance called cementum. The dentin and the pulp continue through the tooth but are thinner in the root portion of the tooth.
The mouth has the largest amount of bacteria in the body. These act on the food deposits on the tooth and produce acid which leads to the breakdown of the enamel. The only symptom when enamel breakdown happens is food lodgment, and it continues until treatment ensues. Once the breakdown reaches the dentin, sensitivity sets in, and most people go for treatment then. If not, the next layer is the pulp, when there is severe pain. This acute pulpitis causes pain in spurts and can be unbearable.
On the root surface, if there is periodontal disease and the gum line goes down, then cementum gets worn off (far more easily than enamel) and decay reaches the dentin and pulp (again faster than in the crown).
Whatever the case, the treatment would be the same:
- Dental examination, clinical testing, and x-rays would be diagnostic. Tapping the tooth would reproduce the same pain and that is indicative of acute pulpitis.
- Antibiotics and pain killers would be given to control the pain.
- Once the infection subsides, root canal therapy is initiated. Using the decayed portion to gain access to the root, thin instruments called reamers and files are used to clean out the pulp space completely. They are then shaped to accommodate an inert substance called gutta percha which ensures the infection does not seep into the tooth again.
- With RCT, the tooth is weakened, and therefore a crown needs to be placed. This could either be a ceramic crown or a full metal crown based on economic and aesthetic reasons.
The best way to avoid this is regular visits to a dentist so that decay is identified in the early stages and treated with the minimal cost and maximum natural tooth preservation.