Dental caries are a problem that troubles about 30% of the world’s population. You need to take good care of your teeth. Without adequate cleaning, teeth may break down as a result of the activities of the bacteria found in the oral cavity. This breakdown can cause cavities, tooth decay, or dental caries.
Bacteria found in the mouth feed on sugars from food particles left on the surface of your teeth. They build up into plaque, the sticky film found in the mouth.
Plaque tends to form easily, particularly in certain areas in the mouth, like the pits or cracks in your back teeth, in-between teeth, around dental bridges, and along the gum line.
Bacterial plaque manufactures acids that eat away tooth enamel, causing certain areas of the tooth to turn white, gray, brown or black, a sure sign of the early stages of dental caries. You can prevent further decay by cleaning your teeth regularly, avoiding sweet and starchy foods, adding fluoride to your oral care, and seeing your dentist for preventive and restorative oral care.
What are the signs and symptoms of dental caries?
You will notice a chalky white area on your tooth. This indicates that the enamel is starting to demineralize. If the decay continues, the white spot may turn darker. The decayed area will become bigger. You will soon lose part of the tooth’s structure, and see a cavity or hole in your tooth.
When the tooth decays further, the cavity becomes more apparent. The enamel and dentin wear down. The dentinal tubules become uncovered, exposing the nerves of the tooth. You may feel pain, especially when the nerves are exposed to sweets, and heat or cold from food and beverages.
The internal decay may become more extensive in time. The tooth gets weaker, and may even fracture from the grind of chewing or eating. Once the decay reaches the pulp tissue, you will experience a more constant type of pain. The pulp tissue will eventually die. Infection may set in. The tooth will become insensitive to cold or heat, and start to yield to pressure. Dental caries eventually end in tooth loss.
It is important to consult your dentist about dental caries. Regular checkup and cleaning can check the progress of dental caries.
If you catch caries in the initial stages, you can ask your dentist to help you reverse the decay. You can halt the damage that the acid causes, and allow your tooth to remineralize, and become healthy again. You can still reverse the process of decay if a cavity has not formed yet. On the other hand, once a cavity forms, you cannot regenerate the tooth structure that is lost.
If you do nothing about your dental caries, they are likely to become worse. The damage will eventually reach the root, and destroy the tooth completely.
How fast will the damage progress? This will differ from one individual to another. Caries can corrode teeth to a level where the pain becomes constant, until the teeth become utterly wasted and eventually fall-out. The duration can take months or years.