Tooth Cavities – Tooth Decay Treatment

Introduction – Tooth Cavities

Tooth cavities usually result from tooth decay. This decay is a result of destruction of the normal structure of the tooth. Tooth decay can affect both the enamel (the outer hard coating of the tooth) and the dentin (the inner layer of the tooth).

The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the teeth, creating holes in the teeth called cavities, or caries.
Decay of the tooth usually is a result of foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) such as breads, cereals, milk, soda, fruits, cakes, or candy that are left on the teeth. These foods allow for growth of bacteria that live in the mouth. The bacteria digest these foods, turning them into acids. The bacteria, acid, food debris, and saliva combine to form plaque, which clings to the teeth. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the teeth, creating holes in the teeth called cavities, or caries.

Who can get tooth cavities? -

Contrary to popular belief cavities affect not only children but also adults. Recession of the gums (a pulling away of gum tissue from the teeth), often associated with an increased incidence of gingivitis (gum disease), can expose tooth roots to plaque.

Also, food cravings in pregnant women can make them more vulnerable to developing cavities. In addition the elderly may also get caries. Because many older adults lacked the benefits of fluoride and modern preventive dental care when they were growing up, they often have a number of dental fillings. Over the years, these fillings may weaken and can fracture, allowing bacteria to accumulate in the tiny crevices causing tooth decay.

Symptoms of tooth cavities -

A regular oral health check up may reveal the tooth cavities. When the dentist probes the surfaces of the teeth they may feel a soft surface. X-rays can also show cavities before they become visible to the eye. In advanced stages of tooth decay, there may be a toothache, especially after consuming sweet, hot, or cold foods or drinks. Other signs of tooth decay are visible pits or holes in the teeth.

Treatment and prevention – Tooth Cavities

If the tooth cavites are small and not extensive the decayed portion of the tooth is removed by drilling and replaced with a filling made of silver alloy, gold, porcelain, or a composite resin. Materials used in fillings are considered safe. Allergies to silver amalgam are rare as are allergies to other restorative materials.

However if more than one tooth has cavities and the cavities are extensive the decayed or weakened area of the tooth is removed and repaired and a crown is fitted over the remainder of the tooth. Crowns are made from gold, porcelain, or porcelain fused to metal. In severe cases a root canal surgery may be needed where the infected root or pulp of the tooth is removed and the tooth capped.

Cavities may be recurrent. Regular maintenance of oral hygeine is important for prevention of cavities. Regular visits to the dentist for check ups can also detect a cavity early.

- Link of interest: Website Brazilian Dental Association

This article is not medical advice nor a substitute to professional health advice. Always consult a doctor.

 

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