Did you know that tooth decay is the most common health problem worldwide? Although it may not cause any symptoms or pain, tooth decay is a problem that must be treated immediately to avoid complications and more complex and expensive treatments.
What causes tooth decay?
Tooth decay is caused by the interaction of sugars in the food we eat and the bacteria in our mouth. Bacteria are present in dental plaque, which is the thin layer of saliva that forms on our teeth and holds bacteria and food fragments. When brushing, the plaque is removed, but some of it can remain if the technique is not adequate or if brushing is not frequent enough.
When plaque residues are left on the teeth, bacteria transform sugars into acids and these acids attack the enamel of the teeth, forming holes on the surface of the enamel: cavities!
Evolution of cavities
Cavities form on the top layer of the tooth, the enamel, which is the white and hardest part of our teeth. When only the enamel of the tooth is affected by decay, the patient often feels no pain or symptoms. When left untreated, the decay grows and spreads to other parts of the tooth.
The dentin is the second part of our tooth to be affected by untreated decay. It is the second layer of our tooth, which is softer than the enamel and yellowish in color. When decay attacks this part of the tooth, it becomes sensitive to hot and cold, but the pain is temporary. It is important to note that some patients may not feel any pain at this stage.
If the decay reaches the pulp, the inner part of the tooth that contains the blood vessels and nerves, the pain becomes more severe and continuous (toothache). If left untreated at this stage, the dental pulp can become infected, causing what is called a dental abscess.
Treatment of cavities
To repair a tooth affected by decay, your dentist must remove the affected part of the tooth and replace it with a material, either composite or amalgam. Composite is a material that is available in many colors, so your dentist can choose the one that best matches the natural color of your teeth.
Amalgam is a silver-gray material, so it is used when the teeth to be repaired are not visible, usually in the back of the mouth. The advantage of amalgam is that it is very resistant and therefore very durable. Your dentist will be able to advise you on the most appropriate material for your case.
Good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent cavities. To do so, you must brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. Also, limit the consumption of sugary foods and foods containing added sugars such as soft drinks and sweets. Acidic foods should also be consumed in limited quantities since acid softens tooth enamel and increases the risk of tooth decay.
Visit the team at Dr. Jean-Pierre Tabah’s dental clinic for optimal dental hygiene. Your dentist will be able to detect cavities in their early stages in order to limit the damage to your teeth.
The Dr. Jean-Pierre Tabah Dental Clinic, for personalized and quality oral health care in the heart of Montreal’s Marché Central.
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