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TOOTH DECAYTooth decay describes the condition wherein the tooth, under a variety of harsh conditions, break 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:Cracks, pits or grooves in the back teethBetween teethAround dental fillings or bridgeworkNear the gum lineSome 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.
Cause-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-1.Surfaces2.Teeth next to each other because this area is hard to clean3.Pits4.Fissures in the "chewing" (occlusal) surface of teeth5.Gum line
Symptoms-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.
DiagnosisMost 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 the eye.Complications-Discomfort or painFractured toothInability to bite down on toothTooth abscessTooth sensitivityTreatment-Treatment often saves the tooth. Early treatment is less painful and less expensive than treatment of extensive decay.Treatment may involve:FillingsCrownsRoot canalsPrevention-Certain preventive measures are known to reduce the risk of tooth decay. 1.Brushing- teeth must be brushed twice in a day to prevent plaque formation.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 homoeopathyHomoeopathic 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 persons overall health, can prevent and treat teeth and gum disease/s.