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Tooth decay & cavities

Tooth decay is the breaking down of the tooth structure when foods containing sugar and starch remain in the mouth. The bacteria in the mouth converts this food debris into plaque. The acids in the plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the teeth, creating openings in the teeth called cavities.

Possible Causes: 

Bacteria is always present in our mouths. Residual food, in the form of carbohydrates, remains on the teeth, and turns into plaque due to the action of bacteria. This affects both the enamel and the dentin layer of the tooth. The acids in plaque start rotting the enamel surface of the teeth, creating crevices in the teeth called cavities.

Some obvious tooth decay causes are:

  • Frequent snacking, sipping on sugary drinks and poor dental hygiene.
  • Irregular visits to the dentist.
  • Bad brushing and flossing habits, leading to cavities and tooth decay.

Risk Factors: 

  • Age: as you grow older, there is wear and tear of your teeth.
  • Tooth location: our back teeth collect food particles and are difficult to keep clean. 
  • Bad eating habits: eating candy, cough drops or soda is a sure way to attract tooth decay.
  • Giving bedtime bottle to babies leaves traces of milk on their teeth.

Signs & Symptoms: 

  • Pain that occurs in your tooth without warning.
  • Food gets stuck when you bite, followed by pain.
  • Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold food.
  • Change in the colour of your tooth surface.

Diagnosis: 

The expert dentists at Medcare can detect potential teeth problems simply by taking a good look at your mouth and teeth. Tapping and probing your teeth with instruments helps them ascertain the pain and sensitivity in your teeth.

Finally, by studying your dental X-rays, they find out the extent of cavities and tooth decay stages. Depending on the type of cavities that you have – smooth surface, pit and fissure sealants or root canal, a line of treatment will be recommended.

Treatment Options: 

The severity of the tooth decay and the resulting cavities decide the type of treatment to be given. At Medcare, you can get the right tooth decay treatment for your condition:

  • Fluoride treatments: in the early stages of a cavity, a professional fluoride treatment may help restore your tooth's enamel.
  • Fillings and crowns: after cleaning the decay, fillings made of composite resins, porcelain or dental amalgam are used to fill up the cavities. If the decay is excessive, then a crown made of gold or porcelain may be used to cover your tooth.
  • Root canals: this treatment is able to save a badly-damaged or infected tooth instead of removing it. Here, the diseased tooth pulp is removed and replaced with a filling.
  • Tooth extractions: severe decay in the tooth leaves the dentist no choice but to remove it. A bridge or a dental implant is used to replace the missing tooth.
FAQs: الأسئلة الشائعة:
  • What are amalgam fillings?

    A: Amalgam fillings are a classic option, and have been in use for about 150 years now. They are made of a mixture of metals – mercury, tin, copper, silver or zinc. They tend to be very strong, long-lasting and cost effective, too. However, as they tend to darken over time, they are not the best option from an aesthetic viewpoint.

  • I’ve been told that a composite filling will match my teeth colour better than an amalgam one. Does it also last just as well?

    A: A composite filling is typically made of glass and acrylic resin. Composite fillings are becoming increasingly popular as they can match the colour of the natural teeth closely. The useful life of a composite filling could be lower than that of an amalgam one. So a composite filling is more appropriate for teeth that will be handling only moderate pressure while chewing food.

  • I am very particular about my oral hygiene, but now my dentist says that I may be ‘over-brushing’. Why is that a problem?

    A: Brushing too roughly or too often can also damage your teeth. You could damage the enamel, and your teeth can become more susceptible to decay and cavities. Ask your doctor about the right way to brush, and brush every morning and at bedtime.

  • What kinds of food should I stay away from to avoid tooth decay?

    A: Certain foods like milk, ice cream, honey, sugar, soda, dried fruit, cake, cookies, hard candy, sweetened mints, dry cereal, and chips are more likely to cause decay as they stick to your teeth for a long time. When you eat these, remember to brush later.

  • What will happen if a cavity is left untreated?

    A: A cavity or tooth decay is a common dental issue caused by excess build-up of plaque and tartar. While it may not be painful in the beginning, it could later lead to severe dental health issues.

    Leaving a cavity untreated causes the decay to become more prominent. This could then reach the nerves and cause an infection in the tooth, which is called a tooth abscess. Delaying cavity treatment also leads to the damage spreading to the root of the tooth called the pulp or even an infection of the nerves. This eventually leads to extensive procedures such as a root canal or even extraction of the tooth.

    If you have an existing cavity, get it checked immediately to avoid further issues. Visit a Medcare dental specialist for a consultation today.

  • What leads to rapid tooth decay?

    A: Cavities are decayed areas of the tooth enamel that keep getting bigger until they destroy the tooth, and sometimes, even the roots and nerves underneath it.

    There are mainly two reasons for tooth decay. The first is what we eat, and the second is the level of oral hygiene we maintain. Snacking often, and especially on sugary food and beverages without cleaning the mouth properly after eating leads to food getting stuck in the teeth. This leads to the formation of acids and plaque, which further deteriorate your teeth. Foods containing carbohydrates can also lead to tooth decay if not followed up with proper cleansing.

    Similarly, lack of good oral hygiene, such as brushing, flossing, and rinsing the mouth after every meal allows bacteria to feed on the food stuck in the teeth.

    Untreated cavities can lead to deeper dental issues. Consult Medcare experts today to know the best treatment for your condition

  • How do you fix tooth decay?

    A: Depending on the stage of the cavity, you will either be suggested a fluoride treatment, which is done in the initial stages of tooth decay and can, to some extent reverse the damage. However, if the damage has significantly progressed, you may either need a filling or a crown, which is fitted after drilling and treating the damaged area.

    In some cases, where the decay has reached the root of the teeth, the only available treatment is a root canal. If the damage is beyond repair, the last resort is to extract the tooth and mount it with a replacement.

    To know which treatment would best suit your condition, visit our dental experts for a consultation today.

  • How do you stop tooth decay once it has started?

    A: The easiest way to stop or prevent tooth decay is by maintaining good oral hygiene. Brushing twice a day and rinsing your mouth well after eating can combat plaque. Consumption of foods that are sticky, sugary or have excessive carbohydrates should also be restricted.

  • Is tooth decay a cavity?

    A: Yes, tooth decay is a cavity. When the enamel of the teeth starts getting damaged, it leads to decay that keeps increasing. This decay could even reach the nerves and the root pulp of the teeth.

  • What is tooth decay?

    A: Tooth decay is damage to the enamel of your tooth. It can occur due to excessive formation of plaque and can lead to cavities. If you are experiencing sensitivity, pain or see a visible hole in your teeth, you may be suffering from tooth decay.

  • Is there any medical aid available to stop/prevent tooth decay?

    A: Fluoride treatments performed by professionals are a good option as they help in reducing and even reversing the decay. You can even opt for inexpensive options such as using fluoride mixed with water, as an ingredient in your toothpaste or a gel form. Getting dental sealants is also advisable as a preventative measure as it creates a barrier between the actual tooth and the food particles to protect the enamel. 

    Noticed any dental pain or sensitivity? Visit a Medcare dentist for an accurate diagnosis.

  • What causes tooth decay?

    A: Although tooth decay is common in children, many adults suffer from it as well. Those who neglect to maintain good oral hygiene, such as brushing twice a day, flossing between the teeth, and using mouthwash often develop cavities. Additionally, snacking on sugary and starchy foods and beverages in the absence of a good routine leads to food getting stuck in the teeth. This leads to the build-up of plaque, which ultimately leads to decay.

    Don’t lose your smile to tooth decay. Whether your cavities are new or old, visit a Medcare dental specialist today.

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