Tooth decay can affect anyone, often even at a very young age; both the permanent teeth and the milk teeth can be affected. This infectious disease results in a cavity (a hole) on the surface of the tooth progressing towards the tooth enamel and then continuing towards the dentine, sometimes even reaching the pulp where the nerves are located.
When the decay reaches the dental pulp, then the patient feels a sharp pain and experiences sensitivity to hot and cold, and it is only then that he finally consults the dentist, but it is often too late. Indeed, once the pulp is affected, often the dentist must devitalize the tooth, that is, remove the nerve.
The best time for treating tooth decay is when the decay is still on the surface of the tooth. The dentist may generally recommend a fluoride-based or a casein-based treatment (without having to perform a restoration and without using the dreaded dentist’s drill) in order to remineralize the lesion. View the Colgate Cavity Protection product presentation on the Colgate Web site.
The types of toothaches discussed on this site
In order to prevent tooth decay, the dentist may sometimes give nutritional advice. For instance, chewing on a piece of cheese at the end of a meal can neutralize the acidity of cariogenic food. For prevention, in high-risk patients, the dentist will sometimes recommend dental adjuvants (mouth rinse, lozenges or chewing gum) containing xylitol. Read this article to learn more.
What causes tooth decay? How can tooth decay be prevented? What are the solutions?
Your dentist David & Cloutier tells you more…
The causes of tooth decay
Sugar and poor dental hygiene are the two main enemies of the teeth. Food debris sticks to the teeth or in between the teeth and turns into an acid that is very harmful to the enamel of the tooth. Some bacteria, such as the streptococcus mutans, attack the teeth and cause the development of caries.
It is proven that snacking (frequent snacks between meals) and sugars encourage tooth decay. Indeed, bacteria need to feed on sugars in order to multiply. Sugar is thus the number one enemy of the teeth, especially powdered sugar or the bits of sugar that are found in soda drinks, cakes, candy…
The development of decay may also result from an imbalance of the bacterial flora resulting from an unhealthy lifestyle: alcohol, tobacco, drugs, an impaired salivary system…
In addition, babies are also not immune to tooth decay; a type of caries that is often called baby bottle tooth decay. When sweetened milk or fruit juice lingers in the mouth, the ensuing process is then very quick: the milk teeth quickly turn brown as soon as they emerge into the mouth. The upper teeth are generally the first ones to be affected.
In conclusion: in order to avoid tooth decay, have a healthy lifestyle, limit consumption of sugars, and do not snack between meals, because when you are snacking, the saliva does not have time to do its clean-up work on the teeth. In fact, saliva plays a preventive role against tooth decay.
The different stages of development of caries
Stage 1: destruction of the enamel.
At this stage, no pain is felt and it is the best moment to treat the decay through remineralization. A tooth paste, a dental cream or an enriched mouth rinse (possessing a higher fluoride, casein or chlorhexidine concentration) may be prescribed. That is why this problem must be diagnosed from the outset through regular visits at the David & Cloutier dental clinic and dentist office in Montréal.
Stage 2: the dentine is affected.
The tooth reacts to external stimuli: hot, cold, and sugar.
Up until this stage, the treatment is simple and does minimal damage to the tooth. The solution consists in using an amalgam (silver-gray filling) or a composite to fill the hole caused by the decay and thus protect the tooth.
Stage 3: the dental pulp (the nerve) is affected.
In this case, severe pain is felt, and even growing into a raging toothache. This condition is called pulpitis, and it is irreversible. At this stage, the root canal treatment is unavoidable.
Stage 4: the dental pulp (the nerve) is destroyed.
Necrosis of the pulp tissue then takes place.
The infection or dental abscess is not far away and sometimes the tooth must be extracted.
Care for the decayed tooth: the various steps
When a cavity has become deep, the following three steps are essential:
- cleaning the cavity,
- protective care,
- reconstitution of the shape of the tooth.
As the decay reaches the dental pulp, the situation calls for the devitalization stage that consists in:
- eliminating the pulp tissue,
- disinfecting the zone,
- sealing the root canals,
- reconstituting the shape of the tooth using biocompatible filling materials, such as a composite or an amalgam.
The dental surgeon checks for lesions by means of a visual examination or by probing with the help of small specialized tools. The practitioner takes digital radiographs in order to visualize the roots of the tooth.
What happens if I do not treat a decayed tooth?
The consequences can be somewhat serious, since a carious affection progresses to the nerves and may then infect the bone. The bacteria may even reach the bloodstream and in extreme cases lead to septicemia (blood poisoning).
If the decay destroys a large part of the tooth, the dentist will install a dental crown in order to restore the tooth. When the extraction of the tooth is the only possible solution, there are still a few choices of replacement methods for the missing tooth (for instance, the dental implant).
For more detail, do not hesitate to communicate with our dental surgeons in order to treat the decay from phase one, well before it is too late!
Telephone : 514 527-1276
Let us now conclude with a short quiz that will test your knowledge
According to you, do poor dietary habits and an over-consumption of sugar lead to tooth decay?
The answer is yes, of course!
Here are the foods that with impacts on tooth decay, from the most harmless to the most cariogenic:
- milk, cheese,
- sugarless gum (with xylitol),
- whole-grain cereals, meat,
- vegetables and legumes,
- fresh fruit,
- sweetened cereals, dried fruit,
- candy, chocolate, hard candy,
- soda drinks, soft drinks, energy drinks.
How to avoid tooth decay?
Prevention is better than cure, and along these lines, this means brushing one’s teeth after each meal. Brushing the teeth does not remove dental plaque, however, and it is also important to have the dentist perform scaling at least once a year.
What is dental plaque?
Plaque is a film forming over the surface of the teeth out of a cluster of bacteria every 24 hours. At a later stage, the erosion of the enamel gives birth to tooth decay. There are some types of food that reduce the degree of acidity, such as cheese, which contains casein, or milk products in general.
When did tooth decay first appear in history?
Tooth decay is thought to have appeared during the Neolithic period following the settling of nomadic peoples. The change in diet due to the consumption of flours would have contributed to its onset.
How to decrease bacterial dental plaque?
You must brush your teeth for a minimum of two minutes after each meal and use dental floss in order to eliminate the scraps of food left between the teeth.
An untreated breeding ground for bacteria represents a danger to health in general.
True or false?
Bacteria can migrate into the body though the bloodstream and graft themselves to such organs as the heart and the kidneys…
Telephone: 514 527-1276
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, dentists in Montréal.