We have different kinds of bacteria that live in our mouths. These bacteria build a sticky film called dental plaque on the teeth. Tooth decay is the damage that occurs when these bacteria , that breed in the mouth produce acids, which can dissolve the layer under the plaque that protects the teeth. This production of acids takes place when we eat and drink. It removes the minerals from the enamel which if left without being treated and can lead to a hole in the tooth, which is commonly known as a cavity when left unnoticed for a long time. Decay begins in the central area of the tooth that is the enamel, and when the enamel breaks down, the decay goes deeper into the dentin and ultimately reaches the nerve or the pulp of the tooth.
Signs & Symptoms of Tooth Decay
- Earliest sign is white chalky appearance on tooth surface .this is due to demineralization.
- With further demineralization the tooth shows brownish black discoloration.
- Loss of tooth structure or cavity formation.
- Food enlodgement.
- Sensitivity to hot, cold or sweets.
- Pain occurs if pulpal infection is there.
- Pain is throbbing and excruciating if pulpal exposure is there.
- Tooth can fracture due to demineralization.
- Bad breadth
Causes of Tooth Decay
- Caries causing bacteria that are already present in the saliva.
- Food resources that are rich in carbohydrates. The bacteria act on the fermentable carbohydrates and releases acid that demineralizes the tooth enamel.
- Faulty eating habits like eating sugary or sticky food in between the meals.
- Inefficient cleaning of teeth
- Plaque deposits that are adhered to the surface of teeth
- Malalligned teeth: angulated or crowded teeth does not allow proper cleaning and hence there are greater chances for caries to occur.
- Dryness of mouth: reduced salivary flow
Classification of Tooth Decay
- Class I – it involves occlusal surfaces of posterior teeth, buccal or lingual pits on molars, lingual pit near cingulum of upper incisors
- Class II – it involves proximal surfaces of posterior teeth
- Class III – proximal surfaces of anterior teeth excluding incisal edge .
- Class IV – it involves interproximal surfaces of anterior teeth including incisal edge
- Class V – it involves cervical third of tooth
- Class VI – incisal edge or occlusal edge is worn away due to attrition
Prevention & Treatment of Tooth Decay
- The tooth decay incidence can be decreased by maintaining the oral hygiene.
- Restricting the sugary and sticky food intake in the diet.
- Twice brushing your teeth with fluoridated tooth paste.
- Fluoride application to the deep pit and fissures.
- If cavity formation is there then it has to be treated by dentist , the decay is cleaned up and filled with a filing material.
- The decay involving the pulp of tooth has to be treated by root canal treatment.