Dental caries is also known as tooth cavities. Do you know how these cavities develop? It initially forms a small hole on the tooth and then slowly the tooth hole increases in size which causes pain in tooth. In this blog, I am going to talk about different healthy practices and foods to follow and avoid that can be helpful in prevention of dental caries. Also will talk about different options for tooth cavity treatment. Hope it will be helpful to those reading this.
- What is cavity (caries)?
- Symptoms when you get a cavity
- How to prevent it?
- Treatment options for cavity
- Food to keep teeth healthy
- Food to avoid for keeping teeth healthy
What are Dental Caries (tooth cavity) ?
Dental Caries or Cavities is a disease of tooth which is caused due to the loss of tooth structure at different stages (enamel, dentin and pulp – these are the forming structures of body of tooth). This loss of tooth structure occurs due to the microbes present in the oral cavity.
The loss of the tooth structure results in the blackening of the teeth. The blackening of teeth is accompanied by pain in most cases. This pain occurs because the tooth decay has reached up to the living structure of tooth.The living structure of tooth is known as pulp in dentistry.
If the cavity is left untreated, then it may lead to infection. The infection can lead to swelling around the cheek accompanied by pain and discomfort. The swelling is generally because of pus formation around the affected tooth. Ice application is recommended when there is swelling around the face. Application of balm or any hot thing should be avoided. In severe cases, tooth loss may occur. That means, you may loose your tooth if all the tooth structures are affected and untreated for a long period of time.
- Toothache (pain in tooth) – This pain varies in intensity – moderate to severe. Some people experiences moderate range of pain and some go through a really bad and unbearable pain.
- Pain on eating something sweet, hot or cold. It occurs also when you have an issue of hypersensitivity.
- Tooth sensitivity. Please refer to the link to know more about teeth sensitivity
- Black/brown staining on the tooth surfaces: There are multiple factors responsible for this.
- It may be due to intake of lots of coffee, tea, cold drinks, beverages, tobacco use on a regular basis, frequent smoking or dentine exposure (In some cases, the enamel is weak and dentinal exposure is seen.)
- Poor dental hygiene such as not brushing teeth regularly/keeping food stuck for a long time. Such teeth are found to be prone for staining.
- Lastly, tooth loss may occur in long term affected and untreated teeth. Yes, you may loose your tooth if it is left untreated for a longer period of time. That’s why you should immediately consult your Dentist instead of ignoring your dental issue.
How to prevent tooth cavity?
Following some basic good habits can help prevent tooth cavity.
- Brush your teeth twice a day (morning and after dinner) with a prescribed toothpaste. Toothpaste plays an important role in keeping teeth healthy and good for a long time. Always prefer fluorinated toothpaste. According to American Dental Association, it is recommended to do scaling every 6 months. Scaling is professional teeth cleaning by a dental professional by using ultrasonic machine which cleans plaque and calculus over the tooth surface as well as debris below the gingiva are removed which cannot be done by simple brushing at home. Gingival and Periodontal health plays important role in keeping healthy oral environment.
- You must take advise of your Doctor if you have any of the above enlisted issue. There are different toothpastes for different dental issues. So, I will recommend you to take an advice of your doctor who can then prescribe an appropriate toothpaste.
- Use mouthwash to keep your mouth fresh and free from bacteria. There are many types of mouthwash available in the market. But, special cases should take advice from doctor before using it. Chlorhexidine mouthwash is the most recommended mouthwash by Dentists. For Children, other mouthwash are recommended. Always take advice of the Dentist before using it.
- Use dental floss to remove the stuck food particles between your teeth. Dental floss is easily available in any medical stores.
- Do not use toothpicks for removing any food particles as it causes damage to your teeth as well as gums.
- Always use soft bristle toothbrush and tongue cleaner while brushing. Make a habit of cleaning your tongue on a regular basis. Also, always replace your old toothbrush with a new one within every 6 months.
Treatment Options for Tooth Cavity
The treatment options for tooth cavity depends on the severity of the caries. That means how much of the tooth structure is affected is seen by the doctor through the X-ray and according to that the suitable treatment options are put forth.
- If the tooth cavity is just started – It can be treated with Fluoride Treatment. The fluoride treatment includes the application of a fluoride gel onto the teeth and is then washed off. This procedure is to be done only by the dental professionals. Please do not try at home without advise.
- If the tooth cavity has crossed the initial stage – Fillings can be done in such cases (There are various types of filling materials like Silver amalgam, Composite, GIC that can be used based on the requirement and choice of patient. Amongst all, Composite is widely used by the experts since it is good aesthetically as well as in terms of strength. If frontal teeth are affected, composite/veneers can be done. If backward teeth are affected, silver amalgam can be done).
- Root canal – If your cavities have reached the innermost level of tooth (ie pulp which is a vital tissue of the tooth) and causing mild to severe pain, then Root canal is recommended. In this process, the inner infected tissue of tooth is removed and a new material is filled within the canal. Generally root canal can be done in 2-3 sessions according to the intensity of pain a person is experiencing. It can also be done in one sitting by an expert dental professionals. Many people avoid having crown after root canal as they are free from pain. But, this should not be done at all. Because, if the root canal is done and crown is not placed, there are chances of the tooth decaying again after some months/years. Crown must be placed after root canal. It acts as a protective covering for the tooth.
- Crown – In most cases, Root canal treated teeth are advised to be given crowns in order for protection. It acts as a protective covering for your teeth.
- Tooth Removal – Also called as Extraction in medical terminology. If your tooth is completely decayed and cannot be saved with the help of all above treatment options, then tooth removal will have to be done by giving anesthesia. Anesthesia is given for a particular time period and then tooth is removed.
Foods to keep teeth healthy
- Calcium rich foods: Calcium rich foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese, dairy products helps to keep teeth healthy. They also aids in healthy bone development.
- Green leafy vegetables: it has nutrient supplements like magnesium and phosphorous which are required for healthy oral environment. It includes Kale, spinach
- Fibre rich fruits and vegetables.
- Nuts– It includes almond, walnuts etc.
Foodstuffs to avoid for healthy teeth
- Sugary foods: Sugar and sugar containing products must be avoided to keep your mouth a microbe-free environment.
- Cold drinks and soft drinks: These are slightly acidic and hence recommended to be avoided.
- Foods that get stuck in between teeth.
- Alcohol: Over consumption of alcohol affects tooth since it has some acidic composition in it.
- Snacks: Frequently having snacks can result in poor oral hygiene as it can be stuck in your teeth which leads to help micro-organisms grow into the oral cavity.
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