Dental caries, also known as tooth decay, is a common oral condition caused by the destructive action of acids and microorganisms in the oral cavity on tooth enamel (the hard mineral substance that covers the crown of the teeth). Although it can be prevented through good oral hygiene, a healthy diet and regular check-ups at the dentist, tooth decay is one of the most common oral conditions. The appearance of white or brown spots on the teeth’ surface generally signals tooth decay in the absence of tooth pain.
Dental caries – What is it?
When acids attack teeth, and there is a buildup of bacterial plaque and tartar, this can cause dental erosion. Dental caries is an underdiagnosed and often neglected oral condition that predisposes tooth loss in the absence of specialized treatment. According to global estimates, more than 60% of children and adults have one or more dental caries. In some of the developing countries, the prevalence of dental caries even reaches 80-90%.
Many factors, including access to quality dental services, lifestyle, genetics or oral education, influence the risk of developing tooth decay. However, knowing that anyone can develop cavities, regardless of oral hygiene, is important.
Symptoms – What does a cavity look like?
The signs and symptoms of dental caries vary from case to case, being influenced by multiple factors (such as the individual’s general health, the stage of the caries development or the location of the caries). Dental caries in the early stages generally cause a slight local sensitivity, which is often overlooked. However, as the decay progresses and reaches the dental vip escort nerve, an acute toothache can become intense and persistent.
Classification & types of dental Caries
There are several types of dental caries, each with its own clinical characteristics. These can be classified according to location, stage of development or etiology.
Dental caries depend on the depth.
This type can be categorized based on the severity of damage to the dental tissue.:
- Superficial caries (a mild form of dental caries, in which only the superficial layer of the tooth is affected) or enamel caries (a form of superficial caries, which only affects the outer layer of the tooth);
- Medium caries (an advanced form of dental caries characterized by the destruction of the dental tissue up to the level of the dental pulp);
- Deep caries (a severe form of dental caries, which affects the deep tissues, including the root of the tooth) or extensive caries (affects more than one tooth).
Dental caries depend on the location.
Another criterion for classifying dental caries is their location (caries can appear in the tooth’s lateral area, at the tooth’s root or on the contact surface).
It is located at the base of the teeth, at the junction between the teeth and the gums. Coronal cavities are lesions of the tooth enamel that expose the nerves and blood vessels inside the teeth. A cavity at the base of the tooth can involve any tooth, including molars or premolars.
Root caries are tooth enamel lesions that occur at the root of the teeth, generally in patients with receding gums. A root cavity is generally painful because the carious lesion reaches deep into the tooth. Left untreated, root cavities can lead to tooth nerve infections.
Occlusal caries are caries that affect the dental contact surfaces (occlusal surface) between the teeth. Due to its location, an occlusal cavity is generally easiest to identify by a visual assessment of the oral cavity.
Interdental caries are carious lesions located in the interdental spaces (the spaces between the teeth), areas where the toothbrush cannot penetrate and which are often neglected during oral hygiene. As with occlusal caries, interdental caries are easier to identify than root or coronal caries in the early stages.
Secondary caries are carious lesions that form around an existing filling or dental crown following the accumulation of bacterial plaque in the marginal area of the prosthetic work. A cavity under a filling requires immediate dental treatment because the risk of permanent loss of the filled tooth is high.
Parcel caries are caries located near the gums, between the dental crown and the root of the tooth. Collet caries frequently appear on the dental surface from the cheek, involving the molar teeth.
Decayed milk teeth – Caries in children
Caries can affect permanent dentition and baby teeth (temporary teeth). In general, most cavities in children are caused by a diet high in sugars and a lack of dental check-ups.
Baby bottle caries
Baby bottle cavities are a type of tooth decay found in children, caused by frequent exposure of the teeth to sweet liquids, especially milk. Treatment of a baby bottle cavity prevents permanent and premature loss of temporary teeth, as well as eruption disorders of permanent teeth, which may occur later.
Dental caries – Causes & risk factors
Poor oral hygiene, lack of regular professional hygiene and a diet rich in carbohydrates are the main causes of dental caries. Also, other important factors can influence the risk of developing dental caries:
- excessive consumption of acidic foods and drinks;
- conditions that reduce the amount of saliva produced, as well as medications that cause dryness of the mouth (such as antihistamines, diuretics or antidepressants);
- certain systemic conditions, such as diabetes;
- old age;
- consumption of tobacco or alcohol;
- chronic stress;
Evolution – How long does a cavity evolve?
Dental caries can develop slowly or quickly, depending on the attention paid to diet, oral hygiene and visits to the dentist. Since individual factors significantly influence the development of tooth decay. It is impossible to establish exactly a period in which tooth decay evolves from an early stage to an advanced stage.
Diagnosis – When should you go to the doctor?
The diagnosis of dental caries is established by the dentist, following a clinical examination of the tooth, based on a dental x-ray and some sensitivity tests. Dental control is essential for the identification of caries, as well as for their treatment. Professional tooth cleaning and filling, accompanied by descaling, are cleaning procedures generally performed during regular visits to the dentist, necessary to prevent caries.
Treatment – How do you get rid of cavities?
The way to treat tooth decay depends on many factors, such as the age of the caries, the degree of damage to the dental pulp or the affected tooth surface. In the case of a small cavity, the filling can repair the tooth, thus preventing the spread of the cavity. On the other hand, in the case of severe tooth decay, which is in an advanced stage of evolution, the treatment may involve tooth extraction.
Depending on the stage of development, the treatment of dental caries may involve:
- The application of fluoride gels on the surface of the tooth (treatment of superficial caries);
- Obturation with light-curing or self-curing composite materials (treatment of more advanced caries);
- Dressing the tooth with a dental crown (a more advanced treatment method than obturation, which involves restoring the tooth with the help of a crown);
- Tooth extraction (invasive treatment method, necessary when the caries is very extensive, including the dental pulp and the nearby bone).
Prevention of dental caries
Preventing tooth decay involves maintaining good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, having regular dental check-ups and avoiding a diet rich in acidic foods or drinks or with high levels of carbohydrates.
Complications – Untreated tooth decay
In the absence of treatment, tooth decay can cause a series of oral and systemic complications, such as:
- infections of the dental pulp, gums or bones;
- dental abscesses or fistulas;
- speech and/or chewing difficulties;
- permanent loss of teeth;
- cardiovascular or metabolic diseases (absence of teeth is associated with a higher risk for such systemic diseases).
Caries cleaning & treatment – Treatment price:
The price of tooth decay treatment is influenced by the stage in which the tooth decay is. And how complex the procedure to be performed is. In the case of multiple cavities, which can benefit from treatment during the same session, the price is individual for each individual cavity.
How to clean a cavity?
Dental caries can be removed with the help of a special tool or by laser therapy. Depending on the severity and how extensive the decay is, root canal surgery may also be necessary. It involves removing the nerve from inside the affected teeth. After the decayed tissue is completely removed, the cavity formed in the tooth will be filled with a composite material.
How do you know you have a cavity?
Dental caries can be recognized based on its symptoms. For example, stains on the surface of the teeth, local pain during chewing or tooth sensitivity. The dentist makes the diagnosis of dental caries following an evaluation of the oral cavity.
Can you get rid of cavities naturally?
Tooth decay in the early stages can be stopped from developing by properly caring for the oral cavity and avoiding risk factors. However, postponing dental control is associated with the progression of the carious process, which will eventually reach the tooth’s nerve. Although it cannot be determined exactly how long a cavity develops. There are many situations in which a small cavity significantly affects the deep structures of the tooth.
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