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Tooth Decay - What Causes It?

BDS (Implantologist)
Dentist, Guwahati  •  19 years experience
Tooth Decay - What Causes It?

Tooth decay or cavities are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of the teeth that develop into tiny openings or holes. Cavities, also called tooth decay or caries, are caused by cavity formation which damages both the outer layer known as ‘enamel’ and the inner layer of the tooth known as ‘dentin’.

When remnants of food such as milk, cereal, chocolates, fruit or cake get stuck in the teeth, they get transformed into acid by the bacteria. The mixture of the acid with the food remnants along with the bacteria and saliva forms plaques around the teeth, the high acidic content of which causes cavities to form around the enamel. In its advanced stages, the cavity tends to destroy the blood vessels and nerves of the tooth.

Cavities and tooth decay are among the world's most common health problems. They're especially common in children, teenagers and older adults. But anyone who has teeth can get cavities, including infants. If cavities aren't treated, they get larger and affect deeper layers of your teeth. They can lead to a severe toothache, infection and tooth loss. Regular dental visits and good brushing and flossing habits are your best protection against cavities and tooth decay.

Causes:

  1. Regular consumption of high carbohydrate food and sweets might result in cavity formation in your teeth.
  2. In older people, the gums tend to get separated from the teeth. This might make the teeth more vulnerable to plaque infection.
  3. The teeth filling tends to decay as you grow old. This might result in cavity formations.
  4. As you get old, the secretion of naturally produced fluoride which helps in cavity prevention, diminishes, thus making you more prone to tooth decays.

Symptoms:

  1. Experiencing severe pain in the tooth every time you eat something sweet, cold or hot.
  2. Tooth becoming extremely sensitive.
  3. Formation of holes in the tooth, coupled with brown or black stains on the tooth surface.

Treatment:
After diagnosis, the damaged part of the tooth is removed with the help of a drill. Gold, silver or alloy fillings replace the hole formed due to the cavity. Also, root canal might be recommended if the tooth roots are destroyed completely. The tissues and other blood vessels of the tooth are replaced by a secured material.

Tooth decay can be prevented if you maintain daily oral hygiene such as using fluoride toothpaste for brushing your teeth, attending regular dental check-ups as you age and completely eliminating high carbohydrate and sugar-based foods from your diet.

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