Dental cavities, also known as dental caries, are a bacterial disease that affects the teeth. This disease causes the demineralization of the inorganic and calcified substances in teeth, leading to the destruction of the organic portion of the teeth and the formation of holes or cavities.
Our teeth have three layers: the outermost and most protective layer is the enamel, followed by the dentine in the middle, and finally the pulp, which forms the core of the tooth and consists of connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. Dental cavities start by breaking down the enamel and slowly progress to involve the inner layers of the tooth until it reaches the pulp and causes an infection in the entire tooth.
WHAT CAUSES DENTAL CAVITIES?
Dental cavities have multiple causes and involve the presence of bacteria in the mouth, frequent sugar consumption, and inadequate oral hygiene practices. Dental plaque, a yellowish-grey film that adheres to teeth and gums, contains millions of bacteria, including harmful ones that can cause cavities. Sugars in our diet provide an energy source for these bacteria, which then produce acidic by-products that can lead to the demineralization and breakdown of enamel and dentin, ultimately resulting in cavities.
WHO ARE AT A RISK OF SUFFERING FROM DENTAL CAVITIES?
Individuals with poor oral hygiene.
Presence of misaligned and crowded teeth, which gives a hiding place to the disease-causing bacteria.
Consumption of sticky and high sugar-containing foods and liquids.
SYMPTOMS OF DENTAL CAVITIES
The symptoms of dental cavities can vary depending on the severity of the disease. In the early stages, there may be no symptoms, but as the disease progresses, you may experience intense tooth pain. This pain can occur at any time and may be exacerbated by hot, cold, sweet, or sour food and drinks, indicating tooth sensitivity.
In cases of advanced tooth decay, the pain may worsen when lying down and can spread to the entire jaw, causing headaches that radiate to the temple region. You may also have difficulty chewing and experience pain when biting down. Dental cavities can cause the affected tooth to turn brownish-black and develop a visible hole.
TREATMENT FOR DENTAL CAVITIES
Dental cavities can be treated based on the extent of the infection. If the decay is limited to the enamel and dentin, your dentist will remove the infected part with a dental drill and restore the tooth with dental cement or composite resins to rebuild its shape, size, and strength.
For more extensive decay, where the pulp is affected, a calcium hydroxide dressing is applied before restoring the tooth. If the infection has reached the pulp, root canal therapy may be required to save the tooth. A crown may also be placed to restore the tooth's shape, strength, and function if significant damage has occurred.
However, in severe cases where most of the tooth has been infected and damaged, extraction of the tooth may be necessary. In such cases, the tooth can be replaced with a dental implant.
If you experience symptoms of dental cavities, such as tooth sensitivity, pain, or discoloration, it's important to schedule an appointment with dentist in Pasadena, CA as soon as possible for evaluation and treatment. A healthy mouth is key to maintaining overall health.