Why you shouldn’t ignore Tooth Decay
What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay, also referred to as dental caries, is the damage caused to a tooth that occurs when decay-causing bacteria in our mouth makes acids that attack the tooth enamel or even its surface. This decay leads to a tiny hole in the tooth, also called a tooth cavity. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain, infection, the formation of pus, and growth of bacteria in the roots, and in the worst case, even tooth loss. Decaying of the tooth is the most well-known cause of toothache. Tooth decay commences at the enamel, beginning to wear off, which leads to the creation of pockets of pollution on the tooth surface.
What causes tooth decay?
Decay results from the wear-off caused by acids that are produced by bacteria and damage the tooth structure. Our mouths are full of bacteria, and there are both sides to these. Some being useful, whereas some are harmful. These harmful bacteria combine with leftover food and form a soft, sticky film called plaque, which can worsen to include a hardened film called Tartar. The bacteria in plaque use the sugars and begin producing acids that eat away all the enamel minerals. A white spot may appear where minerals have lost. These are early signs of tooth decay. You may be able to stop or reverse the decline at this point. But if the tooth decay process continues, more minerals are lost. As time passes by, the enamel gets weakened, forming a cavity.
What are the stages of tooth decay?
The stages of tooth decay are categorized into five stages post which comes to the stage of tooth loss which are-
STAGE I- FORMATION OF WHITE SPOTS
The first stage is when the demineralization of the enamel occurs. The formation of white spots indicates the onset of the first stage of tooth decay. Enamel is the hardest tissue in our body and is mostly made up of minerals, and this is what the outer layer of the tooth is made of. Yet, as a tooth gets exposed to acids produced by bacteria, the enamel begins to lose these minerals due to the wear-off caused by acids. This is when the appearance of white spots occurs, you. This area of mineral deficit due to wear-off is an initial sign of tooth decay.
STAGE II- ENAMEL DECAY
In this stage, the enamel starts wearing off altogether underneath the tooth’s surface. The natural remineralization process cannot restore the enamel leading to a lesion forming within the tooth, called a cavity.
STAGE III- DETIN DECAY
Dentin is the tissue that lies underneath the enamel. It’s softer than enamel, therefore, making it more sensitive to acid wear off. Dentin is the layer that contains tubes that lead to the nerve endings of the tooth. This is the reason why, when dentin is affected by tooth decay, we experience sensitivity.
STAGE IV- PULP DAMAGE
The pulp is the tooth’s center. Cells in the pulp produce dentin, which serves as the connective tissue between the enamel and pulp. When the pulp of a tooth gets infected by the bacteria, pus then forms, killing the blood vessels and nerves in the tooth. The most common treatment at this stage is root canal therapy.
STAGE V- ABSCESS FORMATION
As tooth decay advances into the pulp, bacteria can invade and cause an infection. Inflammation in the tooth can lead to a pocket of pus-forming at the bottom of your tooth, called an abscess. Other symptoms present include swelling of the gums, face or jaw, fever, etc.
In its early stages, one may not experience any symptoms. This is where the role of regular dental visits comes into the picture. Before it is too late and something as serious as a tooth falling off takes place. One must visit the dentist regularly to ensure any further complications.
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