Tooth decay is a condition where your tooth enamel is softened and where your tooth structure can be destroyed due to the action of acids. Cavities are the holes in decayed tooth, that is, cavities are the result of tooth decay. It can happen in adult and children and therefore, you need enough knowledge about it. In this post, you will learn the causes of tooth decay, you will learn prevention of tooth decay and the treatment of tooth decay and cavities. You will also learn how to treat tooth decay at home.
Before we proceed to the causes of tooth decay, you need to first be taught how to know when you have decay if your tooth.
Signs of tooth decay
When you have tooth decay, you will begin to notice signs like sensitivity of your tooth, stains on your tooth which could be white, brown or black, holes in your tooth and/or tooth pain.
Causes of tooth decay and cavities
Decay in the tooth happens when food substances remain in between the tooth for long and are not removed by brushing or flossing the teeth. The food substances that usually cause decay in the tooth are carbohydrate substances. They remain as plaques in between your tooth and turns to acids which destroys the tooth and create holes(cavities) in your tooth. When you leave these holes (cavities) untreated, they become worse with time and can cause terrible damage to or totally destroy your tooth.
The major food substances that causes tooth decay includes sugary substances like chips, candy, sweet, bread, snacks etc. Chewing gum as believed may not cause tooth decay, in fact chewing gum may help you prevent tooth decay but this is only if you chew the right gum (continue reading to find out which one is right). Summarized below are things that could make your tooth decay.
1. Sugary food
As explained before, these substances convert into acids and when they aren’t washed off from your tooth, they become so dangerous and causes tooth decay and cavities.
2. Bad oral hygiene
If you don’t wash your mouth as often as you should, you could be leading yourself to tooth decay. You can read more on how to keep your teeth healthy always.
We previously explained what plaques are in a previous article. When we eat, we chew the substances with our teeth and some food particles remain in our mouth and get in between our tooth. They form plaques which may turn acidic.
4. Medical conditions
Some medical conditions like stomach ulcer, chronic kidney disease, acid reflux can cause harm to your teeth. Medical conditions that causes you to vomit also introduces acid to the teeth.
5. Lack Of Fluoride
Lack of fluoride can lead to lack of protection against decay.
How to prevent tooth decay
Tooth decay and cavities can be prevented if one maintains a good oral hygiene and an overall healthy lifestyle. Brush your teeth and floss as you should, eat good food and use a fluoride toothpaste. Do all you can to keep your teeth healthy always and also eat good food. We recommend that you also read the foods that are good for your teeth.
Treatment of tooth decay and cavities
Why do you need to have your tooth decay if you can prevent it? Well, sometimes, life happens and some of the things we do not want still happens to us. So, how do we treat it?
In treatment of tooth decay, it important for it to be identified quickly so that it can be treated efficiently. You should always look out for the signs we mentioned earlier in this post. So, how is tooth decay treated when you eventually find yourself in the condition?
Here are four methods for the treatment of tooth decay.
1. Use of fluoride treatment
This method is used when the decay is in it’s early stage. Your dentist takes you through professional treatment which introduces fluoride in more quantities than is found in toothpaste and water. Fluoride can help to restore worn out or decayed enamel and may be able to reverse a cavity that is already formed.
2. Use of fillings
Fillings are materials which could be composite resin, porcelain, silver, gold or amalgam(combination of materials). In this method, your dentist takes out the decayed part of the tooth and replaces it with the filling. The use of fillings is the major treatment option taken by dentist and it is taken usually when the decay is past the early stages.
3. Use of crowns
Crowns are also materials which could be of gold, resin or porcelain. This treatment option is used for you when your teeth is weakened or when the decay is much. Your dentist takes out the decayed part of your dentition and replaces with the crown.
4. Root canals
This method is taken when your tooth decay has gotten to the pulp, that is, inner part of the tooth. At this stage, the tooth decay would have resulted to death of the nerves. Your dentist removes the tissues and the decayed part of the tooth. Medications can be also added to the roots if needed or if there are additional infections. After removal, they may put a filling or crown.
The other option apart from these four methods is extracting the tooth. The decay can be so serious that there is no remedy for your tooth any longer. In this case, the tooth is pulled out and a gap in the tooth is left. A dental implant can be used to replace the missing tooth.
How to treat tooth decay at home
There are home remedies for treating tooth decay and cavities which you can practice but it is important to note that these remedies are only for early stages, that is, “pre-cavities” (before the hole starts forming). The following are ways you can treat tooth decay at home;
- Brushing with good toothpaste (See how to choose a good toothpaste here)
- Stopping intake of sugary substances
- Chewing the right gums, that is, sugar-free gums(gums which contains xylitol can help to increase saliva and reduce the acidity of plaques in the mouth)
- Using coconut oil (put coconut oil in your mouth and leave for about twenty minutes, swishing your mouth so that the oil can circulate. It is said to remove toxins
- Banga Stick (some call it oburunbebe stick in Nigeria, but the English name is Licorice root)
- Taking milk and other foods high in vitamin D
Even though this home remedies are good, we still strongly suggest you visit a dentist immediately you see signs of decay.
There are other articles you need to read that will help you keep your teeth healthy
– Causes of toothache
– How to keep your teeth healthy always
– The best toothpaste in Nigeria