What Causes Cavities and Tooth Decay?
Dental cavities or dental caries are oral hygiene-related diseases that occur in an individual due to the progression of tooth decay. Worldwide, they are the most common oral health issues in children, adolescents, and older adults. But even infants who have deciduous teeth can get them. How to get rid of cavities and tooth decay? In this blog expert dentist at First Point Dental shares information about factors that cause cavities and measures that can help prevent cavities.
What Causes Cavities?
Human tooth structure comprises an outer protective layer (enamel), a middle hard layer (dentin), and a center (pulp). Tooth decay is an oral disease that causes damage or breakdown of tooth enamel. It can occur in various degrees of severity depending upon how deep the tooth is affected i.e. the damage ranges from wearing of enamel to the formation of painful abscesses within the tooth pulp.
The erosion of tooth enamel can lead to dental cavities (carries) that are permanent tiny holes or openings created in the dentin (hard tooth surface).
Do cavities cause tooth decay? Yes, if people do not receive early treatment for cavities it can cause tooth decay, then it can result in serious oral health issues. However, tooth decay and dental cavities are preventable and treatable. Good dental and oral hygiene, as well as regular dental visits, can help avoid them.
How to Get Rid of Cavities and Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay or dental cavities are caused by a combination of factors. Typically, the following steps for their development occur inside the mouth:
- Bacteria present in the mouth usually feed on starchy and sugary foods and drinks (i.e. carbohydrates). After such meals or snacks, the acid-producing bacteria convert these sugars of food and drinks into acid.
- A dental plaque (a sticky bacterial film) then coats the teeth surface that is hard because of the mixing of bacteria, acid, saliva, and food.
- Due to improper brushing and flossing or poor oral hygiene that keeps the teeth not clean, the acids in the plaque dissolve the enamel of the tooth (called tooth decay). If the decay gets through the enamel, it can result in dental cavities. Once holes are formed in the enamel, the decay can spread to deeper layers of the tooth.
The chances of developing tooth decay are higher if people:
- Do not brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss after meals
- Suffers from eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia
- Possess a weak enamel because of medical illness or genetic factors
- Have a dry mouth
- Suffer from acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux or GERD)
How to Prevent Cavities and Tooth Decay?
Following ways can help prevent cavities and tooth decay:
If tooth decay is left untreated, then the person experiences toothache, sensitivity to hot or cold, bad breath, spots on the teeth, and even trouble eating and sleeping. The infection can spread to other parts of the mouth and may even result in loss of teeth. Some of the treatment options available for getting rid of tooth decay (of varying degrees including cavities) are:
- Fluoride treatment: In the early stage of tooth decay, fluoride (a mineral) can help repair and strengthen tooth enamel by a process called remineralization. Thus, dentists prescribe fluoride toothpaste, mouthwash, or recommend professional fluoride treatments using fluoride in the form of foam, gel, solution, or varnish directly on the teeth at the dental clinic.
- Tooth Colored Fillings: It is the treatment for dental cavities. Silver amalgam, gold, or composite resin are used to make dental fillings. Either of these materials is filled into the holes created in the damaged tooth after the dentist removes the decayed material.
- Crowning: Dental crown (artificial teeth) can be used to cover the large cavities in the tooth.
- Root canal procedure: This is an endodontic treatment for the removal of infected tooth pulp to alleviate tooth pain.
- Tooth Extraction: It is the last solution for severely damaged teeth by a cavity that involves removal of permanent tooth and its replacement by a affordable dental implants.