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To understand what happens when your teeth decay, it's helpful to know what's in your mouth naturally. Here are a few of the elements:
Saliva ? Your mouth and teeth are constantly bathed in saliva. We never give much thought to our spit, but this fluid is remarkable for what it does to help protect our oral health. Saliva keeps teeth and other parts of your mouth moist and washes away bits of food. Saliva contains minerals that strengthen teeth. It includes buffering agents. They reduce the levels of acid that can decay teeth. Saliva also protects against some viruses and bacteria.
Plaque ? Plaque is a soft, gooey substance that sticks to the teeth a bit like jam sticks to a spoon. Like the slime that clings to the bottom of a swimming pool, plaque is a type of biofilm. It contains large numbers of closely packed bacteria, components taken from saliva, and bits of food. Also in the mix are bacterial byproducts and white blood cells. Plaque grows when bacteria attach to the tooth and begin to multiply. Plaque starts forming right after a tooth is cleaned. Within an hour, there's enough to measure. As time goes on, the plaque thickens. Within two to six hours, the plaque teems with bacteria that can cause cavities and periodontal (gum) disease.
Calculus ? If left alone long enough, plaque absorbs minerals from saliva. These minerals form crystals and harden into calculus. Then new plaque forms on top of existing calculus. This new layer can also become hard.
Bacteria ? We have many types of bacteria in our mouths. Some bacteria are good; they help control destructive bacteria. When it comes to decay, Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacilli are the bacteria that cause the most damage to teeth.
How Your Teeth Decay
The bacteria in your mouth need food to live and multiply. When you eat sugary foods, or even starches such as rice, the bacteria use them as food, too. The bacteria then produce acids that can dissolve tooth enamel (outer layer of the tooth).
It's not just candy and ice cream we're talking about. All carbohydrate foods eventually break down into simple sugars. Some of this process begins in the mouth.
Foods that break down into simple sugars in the mouth are called fermentable carbohydrates. These include the obvious sugary foods, such as cookies, cakes, soft drinks and candy. But they also include pretzels, crackers, bananas, potato chips and breakfast cereals.
Bacteria in your mouth turn the sugars in these foods into acids. These acids begin to dissolve the mineral crystals in teeth. The more times you eat each day, the more times your teeth are exposed to an acid attack.
This attack can lead to tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities. First, the acid begins to dissolve calcium and phosphate crystals inside a tooth. A white spot may appear on the enamel in this weakened area. But the loss of minerals develops beneath the surface of the enamel. The surface may still be smooth.
At this stage, the tooth can be repaired with the help of fluoride, proteins and minerals (calcium and phosphate) in the saliva. The saliva also helps reduce the acid levels from bacteria that attack the tooth.
Once the decay breaks through the enamel to cause a cavity, the damage is permanent. A dentist must clean out the decay and fill the cavity. Left untreated, the decay will get worse. It can destroy a tooth all the way through the enamel, through the inside dentin layer and down to the pulp or nerve of the tooth. That's why it is important to treat caries at a very early stage, when the process can be reversed.
Types of Decay
Young children can get a type of decay called baby bottle tooth decay or early childhood caries. It destroys enamel quickly. This type of decay is common in children who are put to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice. The bottle exposes the teeth constantly to carbohydrates through the night. Bacteria can grow rapidly and produce acid that decays teeth.
Decay can become worse if the parent does not clean the child's teeth. It can eat through enamel and leave a large cavity in a matter of months.
In older adults, the exposed roots of teeth can develop cavities. This is called root caries. Older adults are more likely to have receding gums caused by years of hard brushing or periodontal disease. They also are more likely to have dry mouth (xerostomia). The decrease in saliva results in less protection of the teeth. This increases the risk of decay. Many common medicines can cause dry mouth. Be sure to ask the doctor or pharmacist if any of your medicines cause dry mouth.
Decay can form beneath fillings or other tooth repairs, such as crowns. Sometimes bacteria and bits of food can slip between the tooth and a filling or crown. This can happen if the filling cracks or pulls away from the tooth, leaving a gap.
Do you or your family members get cavities often? Dental research has found out that certain factors can affect your risk of tooth decay. These factors include:
The current number of decayed or filled teeth
Your fluoride exposure, including fluoride in drinking water, toothpaste and rinses, and fluoride treatments in the dental office
Parents or siblings with dental decay
How well you take care of your teeth
The amount of saliva and the balance of minerals, enzymes and buffering agents it contains
How often and what types of foods you eat (especially fermentable carbohydrates)
Ask your dentist about the best ways to reduce your risks and limit dental decay.
To prevent your teeth from decaying, you can do three things:
Strengthen your teeth's defenses with fluoride, sealants and agents that contain calcium and phosphate ions.
Have your dentist or dental hygienist place sealants on your back teeth.
Reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth.
Fluoride penetrates into teeth. It strengthens them by replacing minerals that acid has removed. The benefits of fluoride to teeth were first discovered in the 1930s. Dentists started to notice that people who drank water that naturally contained fluoride had less tooth decay. In 1945, communities started to add fluoride to water supplies. Adding fluoride to water systems has been the most successful cavity prevention method to date.
In the early 1960s, fluoride also began to be added to toothpaste. This also had a major impact on cavity prevention. Now almost all toothpastes contain fluoride. Everyone should brush with a fluoride toothpaste every day. Dental offices sometimes recommend higher levels of fluoride in toothpastes, gels and mouth rinses for both children and adults.
Sealants are protective coatings placed over the tops of the back teeth ? molars. They block bacteria and acids from sticking in the tiny grooves on the chewing surfaces of these teeth. Sealants can be placed in adults and children. Children can have sealants placed on their permanent molars once they come in, around age 6. Sometimes they are also used on primary (baby) molars. Dentists can put sealants on molars with signs of early decay, as long as the decay hasn't broken through the enamel.
You can never get rid of all the bacteria in your mouth. But you can take steps to control and disrupt the bacteria so they don't attack your teeth:
Brush twice a day.
Reduce the number of times each day that you consume fermentable carbohydrates.
Some mouthwashes reduce bacteria in your mouth. This can help prevent decay. Chewing sugarless gums, especially those with xylitol, can help reduce the number of bacteria that cause cavities and increase the flow of saliva.
Most importantly, visit your dentist regularly. Then the dentist can find any decay early, when it can be treated and reversed.
- It may come as a surprise that some 20% of all orthodontic patients are adults. But it really shouldn't! When you consider the social and professional advantages of investing in your smile, the benefits are clear. Plus, with the less-noticeable orthodontic appliances that are available today, many people are able to receive this treatment in a more discreet manner.
- Healthy teeth can be moved at any age. But as an adult, you'll have more choice in the way this is accomplished. For example, if it's appropriate in your situation, you could opt for clear braces instead of traditional metal appliances. You may even be able to get the results you want using lingual braces, which attach to the tongue side of your teeth, or clear orthodontic aligners, which are transparent and removable. Both of these appliances offer a method of treatment that's virtually invisible.
- There are a number of different orthodontic appliances that can be effective in different situations. Which type of treatment is right for you? Let your dentist help you find the best way to get the smile you've always wanted — it's never too late!
Always come bad smell from my mouth i am facing his problem from last 2 years. I brush twicely use mouthwash daily. Please help
Gud mrng My problem, when ever I speak mouth smells it hurts me a lot, even if I brush nicely after sum times it starts smelling so, I want my mouth to be fresh always.
I am 64 year old I want to do implant of my full set of teeth. Can any one suggest good doctor who can do it and off course in low cost.
Hi Doc, My question is about teeth, If I going to clean my teeth because of plaque and cavity, is this treatment painful? And what are other features? Thanks Saumya.
What is Pyorrhea?
Pyorrhea, also known as periodontitis, is inflammation and destruction of the tissues and bone surrounding the teeth. Periodontitis mainly begins with gingivitis. Gingivitis refers to inflammation of gums as a result of plaque formation due to poor oral hygiene. Gingivitis, when left untreated, leads to periodontitis. Gingivitis is a milder form of the disease and in gingivitis, no irreversible changes take place. However, persistent gingivitis leads to formation of deep pockets between the gums and teeth. These pockets get filled with plaque and bacteria over time and start to damage the tissue and bone surrounding and supporting the teeth. Eventually, the teeth lose their grip and fall off.
Symptoms of Pyorrhea:
Symptoms of pyorrhea include swollen gums, pain and tenderness of gums, red/purple gums, bleeding gums, spitting of blood after brushing, bad breath, metallic taste in the mouth, receding gums and loose teeth in sockets.
Treating Gum Disease With Homeopathy:
Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using holistic approach. This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which the patient is suffering. The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat gum disease but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility. As far as therapeutic medication is concerned, several remedies are available to treat gum disease that can be selected on the basis of cause, sensations and modalities of the complaints. For individualized remedy selection and treatment, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person. There are following remedies which are helpful in the treatment of gum disease:
Merc Sol: This is one of the best homeopathic medicines for pyorrhea. It is used when symptoms such as swollen, bleeding, and tender gums are experienced. The gums are likely to turn bluish red. A metallic taste in the mouth and foul breath are also indicated. An increase in saliva is another likely symptom, along with loosening of teeth in the sockets.
Carbo Veg: This homeopathic medicine is used for treating pyorrhea, especially in cases where there is gum bleeding after cleaning the teeth. The gums are receding and become blackish in color. Toothache is also experienced, which worsens when you chew food. A sour, bitter taste may be felt in the mouth.
Kreosotum: This medicine is effective for treating teeth and its surrounding structures in case of pyorrhea. It is ideal for use when symptoms such as puffy, bluish gums, and foul odor from the mouth are observed. Bleeding of dark blood is also indicated. Teeth may become decayed or turn dark and crumbly. Kreosotum is beneficial in treating such symptoms associated with pyorrhea.
Phosphorus: This is another important homeopathic medicine used for the treatment of pyorrhea. It is useful in cases of pyorrhea when gum bleeding occurs easily. It is an effective anti-hemorrhagic medicine. Gum pain and soreness are also likely in such cases. The pain worsens by both heat and cold. Pain in the teeth may also occur along with gum pain.
Lachesis: This medicine is used for curing pyorrhea when there is a swelling of the cheeks along with other symptoms. The gums become dark purple in color and swell up immensely. Burning along with a coppery taste in the mouth is also experienced, which is a unique symptom. The tooth pain is likely to extend into the ears.
There are homeopathic medicines meant for curing pyorrhea occurring from various factors, with different symptoms. However, it is important for you to consult a homeopathic practitioner before taking any of these medicines. This is because homeopathy does not work the same for all people, in spite of similar symptoms, and only a licensed doctor will know about the best medicine that will suit your purpose.