What Is Tooth Decay?
When germs or bacteria eat the tooth away by making acid in the mouth, tooth decay occurs. It may form a hole in a tooth, which is called cavity. If the tooth decay is not treated timely, then it can lead to infection, tooth loss, and pain, which is unbearable. In extreme cases, an even abscess is formed in the tooth.
There are three layers of tooth:
- The first layer is the hardest layer called enamel.
- Middle or the second layer is known as dentin.
- The tooth’s centre is known as pulp. It is the deepest layer. Blood vessels and nerves are present here.
- The damage worsens, as the deeper layers get affected.
What Are The Symptoms Of Tooth Decay?
Symptoms of a tooth decay increase with time. Tooth decay can lead to:
- A toothache: A sharp and unbearable pain is felt when the condition worsens. Generally, the patient suffering from the tooth decay is unable to sleep. Sometimes, tooth ache may result in a headache as well. It can be continuous or a sharp occasional pain.
- Teeth become sensitive: Tooth with infection feels the pain or tenderness while drinking or eating something sweet, cold, or hot.
- Pain due to pressure change: Sometimes toothache is experienced while under water scuba-diving or flight take off; it indicates the presence of a cavity in the tooth. Pressure change irritates the nerves of an infected tooth, which causes severe or dull pain or uneasiness.
- Appearing of the black, brown, or grey spots on one’s teeth is the sign of unhealthy teeth.
- Bad breath: When tooth starts to decay one experiences unpleasant or foul smell, which is caused due to the accumulation of bacteria in the mouth.
- Bleeding tooth: Sometimes, blood is visible on the toothbrush; it can be a sign of cavity in the tooth, but not necessarily. Blood can be visible due to harsh bristles of the brush or roughly brushing the teeth. Definitely, get oneself examined in the case one finds recurring bleeding of gums.
- Swelling in gums: Tooth decay can cause the damage to nerves, which may result in swelling of the gums. Swelling may not always be painful.
- An unpleasant mouth taste is experienced.
What Are The Causes Of Tooth Decay?
- Food and bacteria are the major cause of the tooth decay. There is a layer of sticky, clear substance known as plaque. There are bacteria present in the plaque, which feed on the food that one eats, especially foods containing sugar.
- While feeding the bacteria form acid. This acid may attack the teeth around for 20 minutes or may be more after one has consumed the food. With the time, enamel of the teeth destroys, which causes tooth decay.
- The few things, which make one more prone to tooth decay are:
- Not flossing and brushing one’s teeth daily or preferably twice a day.
- Not visiting a dental expert for cleaning and check-ups.
- Not enough saliva formation: Saliva helps to wash away harmful sugar and foods. Hence saliva helps to protect one’s teeth from decay.
- Diabetic patients are prone to tooth decay: High level of glucose in saliva helps the plaque and the bacteria to grow, which leads to tooth decay.
- Deficiency of fluoride may cause tooth decay.
- Chewing or smoking tobacco can lead to tooth decay.
- Eating too slowly. Some children take a lot of time while eating their meals, which can also cause cavities and tooth decay.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Tooth Decay?
It is important to maintain a good oral health, but today’s lifestyle makes it difficult to achieve healthy teeth and gums. Here are some important tips that one must follow to prevent tooth decay:
- One must brush his/her teeth twice a day: It is important to brush one’s teeth two times daily, preferably after having meals. Also, it is necessary to adopt a correct way of brushing, which one can learn by viewing online videos.
- Aim to clean the whole mouth and not just teeth: Cleaning teeth is just a part of overall oral health. Bacteria cause damage to the entire mouth including inner cheeks, tongue, throat, and gums. Hence, it becomes important to clean and brush the entire mouth thoroughly. One can also use mouthwash for aiming a mouth free of germs.
- Flossing: Many people just ignore this important step of oral hygiene, but it is mandatory to floss if one wants to achieve healthy and cavity free teeth. Flossing is a process in which a thread is used to clean the areas between the teeth. A moderate number of bacteria and food remaining are accumulated between the teeth, which do not come out just by brush. This trapped food and bacteria cause the damage to the teeth for long period of time. Hence, to avoid this decay one must definitely use floss.
- Recognize and pay attention to the symptoms of oral health problems: One of the main reasons of extreme dental issues is ignorance of the signs and symptoms that one faces over a long period of time. People only realize their teeth problems when they suffer from unbearable pain, and then they rush to a doctor. When the patient suffers from extreme pain, generally treatments like tooth extraction and root canal are mandatory. These treatments can surely be avoided if the symptoms are taken care of, in the early stages.
- Go for professional cleaning: Time to time cleaning of teeth can surely avoid the tooth decay.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Tooth Decay?
- Follow the tips that are mentioned below to achieve healthy teeth:
- Do not brush one’s teeth in a hurry: Take time for cleaning the teeth well. Otherwise, bacteria and food particles remain in the mouth causing acid formation. Acid further deteriorates the condition of the teeth.
- Do not smoke: Smoke can cause the ill effect on the gums that promote the tooth to decay further, which often leads to bad breath. Smoking also results in the discolouration of the teeth.
- Do not use same the tooth brush for a long period of time: Using the same toothbrush for more than three months can decrease its affectivity. Hence, one must replace the brush timely. Also, consider replacing the brush after one has suffered from common cold or the flu to prevent infection. Keep the brush covered, so that germs do not accumulate over it.
What Are The Best Foods For Tooth Decay?
Foods play an essential role in the prevention of tooth decay. Some foods that are beneficial and essential for tooth health are:
Calcium rich foods: Calcium is the main element to avoid the decaying of the tooth, especially for children. One must consider consuming dairy products like milk, cheese, and yoghurt. These food items are high in fat and if one is aiming for low-fat foods for preventing tooth decay than low-fat yoghurt and cheese, and skimmed milk are equally beneficial.
Whole grain foods: Whole grain food provides iron and vitamin B that promote the healthy gums. Also, whole grain foods have magnesium as an ingredient, which plays vital a role in teeth and bone health. Adding to the benefits whole grain foods are high in fibre content. The few whole grain foods one can consume to prevent tooth decay are brown rice, pasta, bran and while-grain cereal.
High fibre Foods: Consuming high-fibre foods keep the saliva flowing that helps to create a defence against the tooth decay. Some great sources of fibre are fresh fruits such as orange, apples and bananas, and dry fruits like raisins, figs, and dates. Also, some vegetables can be included in the list like Brussels sprouts, peas, and beans. Nuts like almond and peanuts are also good options.
Chewing sugar-free gums: Chewing gum with xylitol, which is a natural substitute for sugar are recommended to prevent tooth decay. Xylitol has properties that fight with cavities. Xylitol prevents bacteria that cause tooth decay as these bacteria cannot use xylitol for their growth to produce acids. One can chew xylitol gums 3-5 times a day.
What Are The Worst Foods For Tooth Decay?
One of the main causes of tooth decay is food. It is essential to watch what one eats to prevent tooth decay. Certain foods that must avoid for healthy teeth are:
Sugar containing foods: Literally, sugar is teeth’s enemy. Foods containing sugar promotes the growth of bacteria on the teeth, which results in acid formation. The acid can lead to tooth decay. One should try to brush his/her after consuming sugary food. Some of the sugar-containing foods that one must avoid are packed juices, jams, pastries, candies, milk chocolates, cookies, cakes, puddings, and syrups.
Do not chew ice: Ice is not a sugar substance; it is just solidified water then also it hurts teeth. The reason behind this that any hard substance may harm teeth and enamel can get damaged. Therefore, one must avoid chewing ice.
Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits are highly acidic in nature, which can cause the tooth enamel to erode, making the tooth more vulnerable to decay. The few citrus fruits to avoid are the lemon, grape fruit, tangerine, pomelo, and key lime.
Coffee and tea: Caffeinated tea and coffee tend to dry one’s mouth, which leads to increase in the number of bacteria, as saliva is decreased to wash them out. Drinking plenty of water can minimize the effect of tea and coffee. Tea and coffee also lead to the staining of the teeth.
Alcoholic beverages: Alcohol can also lead to the dryness of the mouth that means less saliva is formed. Because of which bacteria do not wash away. Hence, alcohol consumption promotes the decaying of the teeth. Some of the alcoholic beverages are beer, wine, whiskey, and rum.
What Are The Medicines For Tooth Decay?
What Are The Tips To Manage Tooth Decay?
- Maintain a good oral hygiene level.
- Watch what you eat.
- Be regular on professional teeth cleaning.
- Use mouthwash every time after eating a meal. Keep the mouth wash handy even when travelling.
- Learn the proper way of brushing teeth either by a dentist or watching online videos.