Tooth decay describes the condition wherein the
tooth, under a variety of harsh conditions, breaks down, leading to the formation of a
cavity/cavities. The medical term used for it is DENTAL CARIES.
It usually occurs in children and young adults but can affect any
person. It is a common cause of tooth loss in younger people.
Many different types of bacteria normally live in the human mouth. They
build up on the teeth (along with saliva, bits of food and other
natural substances) in a sticky film called plaque. Plaque forms
especially easily in certain places. These include:
Some of the plaque bacteria convert
sugar and carbohydrates (starches) in the foods we eat into acids.
These acids dissolve minerals in the surface of the tooth. This erodes
the enamel or creates pits in it that are too small too see at first.
But they get larger over time.
- Cracks, pits or grooves in the back teeth
- Between teeth
- Around dental fillings or bridgework
- Near the gum line
1.Poor oral hygiene: Irregular and improper brushing, not flossing
between teeth, not rinsing with water or mouthwash after meals speed up
the process of tooth decay.
2.Unregulated diet of sweet food and drinks: Periodic snacking on
aerated drinks, jam, marmalade, even potato chips can lead to the
formation of acidic by - products which damage the surface of the tooth
enamel. This is the reason why most young children adolescents suffer
from tooth decay.
3.Bad or worn out dental fillings: Tooth decay might develop again from
exposed tooth surfaces.
Common sites involved-
2.Teeth next to each other because this area is hard to clean
4.Fissures in the "chewing" (occlusal) surface of teeth
A person experiencing caries may not be aware of the disease. The
earliest sign of a new carious lesion is the appearance of a chalky
white spot on the surface of the tooth, indicating an area of
demineralization of enamel. This is referred to as incipient decay. As
the lesion continues to demineralize, it can turn brown but will
eventually turn into a cavity. Before the cavity forms, the
process is reversible, but once a cavity forms, the lost tooth
structure cannot be regenerated. A lesion which appears brown and shiny
suggests dental caries was once present but the demineralization
process has stopped, leaving a stain. A brown spot which is dull in
appearance is probably a sign of active caries.
As the enamel and dentin are destroyed, the cavity becomes more
noticeable. The affected areas of the tooth change color and become
soft to the touch.
Once the decay passes through enamel, the dentinal tubules, which have
passages to the nerve of the tooth, become exposed and causes pain in
the tooth. The pain may worsen with exposure to heat, cold, or sweet
foods and drinks.
Dental caries can also cause bad breath and foul tastes.
In highly progressed cases, infection can spread from the tooth to the
surrounding soft tissues.
Most cavities are discovered in the early stages during routine
checkups. The surface of the tooth may be soft when probed with a sharp
instrument. Pain may not be present until the advanced stages of tooth
decay. Dental x-rays may show some cavities before they are visible to
- Discomfort or pain
- Fractured tooth
- Inability to bite down on tooth
- Tooth abscess
- Tooth sensitivity
Treatment often saves the tooth. Early treatment is less painful and
less expensive than treatment of extensive decay.
Treatment may involve:
- Root canals
Certain preventive measures are known to reduce the risk of tooth
1.Brushing- teeth must be brushed twice in a day to prevent plaque
2.Flossing- this will help in removing plaque from between teeth.
3.Rinsing- mouth should be rinsed with water thoroughly after each meal.
4.Nutritious and balanced diet should be taken.
5.Topical fluoride is also recommended to protect the surface of the
teeth. This may include a fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash.
Role of homoeopathy
Homoeopathic medicines will help in alleviating toothache.
They will also prove helpful in problems arising after tooth extraction (excessive bleeding, pain etc.).
Besides treating acute dental problems, homeopathic medicines have the
capacity to treat various chronic dental problems as well. Since some
chronic dental conditions result from general health problems of the
person, homeopathic medicines which have the capacity to strengthen a
person's overall health, can prevent and treat teeth and gum disease/s.
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