Tooth decay (caries) is the world’s most common dental disease. People tend to associate dental caries with toothache and the infamous “hole in the tooth”. But tooth decay is much more than that – if left untreated it can threaten the whole body
Causes of Tooth decay
Tooth decay is a local damage or loss of dental material (enamel, dentin root cement). It is a type of damage caused by bacterial activities in the dental plaque present on the tooth surface.
The bacteria found in dental plaque break down sugars into acid. Enamel, dentin exposed to this acid leads to demineralization (descaling) and can lead to irreversible lesions (holes or caries) and consequently toothache. If the caries is not treated in time, the inflammation can spread to the jawbone, adjacent teeth and gums.
Tooth decay is a multi-factorial and complex disorder in which many factors are involved simultaneously (i.e. teeth, bacteria, nutrients and time).
Although ultimately bacteria are responsible for the development of tooth decay – but only if we allow them to do so by insufficiently brushing our teeth. This illustrates the importance of oral hygiene and preventive dental care as well as the professional cleaning of teeth by the dentist, which removes plaque and tartar.
Dental caries begins inconspicuously and initially causes no pain, so it is often overlooked in the initial stages. Occasionally, white spots (white spots) appear on the surfaces of the teeth, indicating descaling of the enamel layer. The hard tooth surface then becomes porous at this point and becomes brownish over time. With poor oral hygiene, the demineralization progresses, and small holes are formed from which carries causing bacteria can penetrate.
As soon as a hole is formed, pain may occur, as the caries pathogens usually attack the tooth nerves in the pulp at this stage.
Teeth sensitivity to hot, cold and sweet foods or drinks are also symptoms associated with tooth decay.
Treatment of tooth decay
If there are no holes in the enamel layer, professional teeth cleaning and remineralization of the decalcified white areas can be successful.
If the enamel has been damaged or holes have already formed, it is necessary to drill out the affected tooth areas to remove the focus of the disease and the inflammation. The dentist cleans and disinfects the resulting hole and then fills the cavity with a composite filler material.
If the carious process has already penetrated to the depth of the tooth root, a root canal treatment would have to be instituted.
Sometimes the destruction of the tooth substance has progressed so far that the tooth stability cannot be restored even with a filling. If that is the case, inlays , onlays or a crown, which replace a part of the tooth are used.
If tooth decay is left untreated, the bacteria continue the destructive process which can spread to the jawbone resulting in severe pain and inflammation. Then there is the danger that pathogens can find their way into the bloodstream and spread to other organs, making it imperative you see your dentist immediately.