What is Dental Caries?
Dental caries (also referred to as tooth decay or cavities) is one of the most common and widespread persistent diseases today. Good to note, it is also one of the most preventable. When you eat certain foods, the bacteria on your teeth break them down and produce acids that have the ability to seriously damage the hard tissues of your tooth. The result is the formation of dental caries (cavities).
Prevention of Dental Caries
Despite the impact tooth decay can have on your teeth if left unattended, dental caries or cavities are largely preventable with a great oral hygiene regimen! This includes regular dental checkups in order to identify pre-existing conditions before they lead to more serious issues down the road. The earlier a dental professional can spot the signs of poor oral hygiene, such as a buildup of plaque, the better your chances of preventing dental caries and gum problems from ever occurring in the first place.
Brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes using a fluoride rinse, paste, or gel. Flossing regularly after brushing especially if you’re frequently eating or drinking sugary foods or drinks. Certain foods high in sugar can provide a consistent supply of damaging acid to the tooth hard tissues. Flossing once or twice a day can help you remove food particles from between the hard-to-reach areas of your teeth you might be missing.
Treatments of Dental Caries
Professionally, there are four main ways to deal with dental caries. These treatments carried out by a dental professional can help treat damage incurred from dental caries.
Fillings are the most common form of treatment for the disease. A dental professional drill into the affected area(s) of the teeth, removes the decayed material inside the prepared cavity and packs this empty space with an appropriate dental filling material. There are different types of filling materials that can be used, depending on the area where caries has occurred. Composite resin, the most common filling material in the developed world, has a great pallet of colour which dentists can use to repair caries damage to teeth that are visible when you smile. In the case of back teeth, some dentists prefer using other dental filling materials which are stronger.
Crowns are another option for dental professionals when treating dental caries, and are only used when a large proportion of the tooth is destroyed by the disease. When tooth decay leads to the need for large fillings, the tooth becomes more prone to cracks and ultimately breaking. The dentist would attempt to salvage the remaining tooth, repair it, and finally fit the tooth with an alloy or porcelain crown covering.
Another method of treatment, a dental professional may employ is called a root canal. As tooth decay progresses through the enamel and settles in the centre of the tooth, it may even advance further and damage the nerves, which are in the root. A dental professional would remove the damaged or dead nerve with the surrounding blood vessel tissue (pulp) and fill the area. The procedure usually ends with the dentist placing a crown over the affected area.
In some cases, the tooth may be damaged beyond repair and must be extracted if there is a risk of infection spreading to the jaw bone. The removal of some teeth may affect the alignment of those left in the mouth, so it is recommended that a partial denture, bridge, or implant be inserted in those edentulous areas