Tooth decay is the damage to the tooth that occurs when bacteria cause production of acids in your mouth leading to formation of holes in your teeth. The affected tooth appears to be broken but it is typically damaged by the germs. Tooth decay can cause a hole in the affected tooth known as cavity. The most common cause of tooth decay is the presence of leftover food that ultimately invites germs and microorganisms.
HOW IS TOOTH DECAY DIAGNOSED?
The dentist can diagnose cavities 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.
HOW IS TOOTH DECAY TREATED?
Treatment of tooth decay depends on how advanced it is.
For early stage tooth decay –your dentist will talk to you about the amount of sugar in your diet and the times you eat. They may apply a fluoride gel, varnish or paste to the area. Fluoride helps to protect teeth by strengthening the enamel, making teeth more resistant to the acids from plaque that can cause tooth decay.
Your dentist may discuss a filling or crown with you –this involves removing the dental decay, offering local anaesthetic to numb the tooth and filling the hole.
If tooth decay has spread to the pulp (in the centre of the tooth, containing blood and nerves) –this may be removed in a process known as root canal treatment.
If the tooth is so badly damaged that it can't be restored –it may need to be removed. Your dentist may be able to replace the tooth with a partial denture, bridge or implant.
DID YOU KNOW?
The best way to avoid tooth decay is to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. One should visit your dentist regularly,cut down on sugary and starchy food and drinks,look after your teeth and gums and avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively