Dental Health Answers
Preventing and treating tooth decay
Tooth decay is one of the most common infectious diseases known to man. (Only the common cold is more prevalent.) Decay or caries occurs when the teeth are attacked by acid, which is introduced to the mouth in one of two ways: 1) Through the consumption of foods or acidic drinks like soda pop, fruit juice, etc. or 2) Through the breakdown of the sugars and starches in our diet by the naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths.
For most people, cavities develop due to excessive ingestion of sugary foods and candy, as well as soda pop. This causes the localized acid load in the mouth too increase to such a high level (pH < 5.5) that the acid literally rots a hole in the tooth. Excessive consumption of carbonated beverages like colas can be especially bad for the teeth, because they contain both acid and sugar.
To avoid cavities, and still enjoy a sweet or carbonated beverage, simply brush and floss immediately after eating or drinking these. This removes the sugars and acids and stops the decay process from progressing.
However, for some of us, the decay process has already occurred, necessitating a filling or perhaps a crown.
Dental cavities are also known as dental ‘caries’ (Latin for ‘rot’), or tooth decay. When food particles, plaque, sugars and acids are left to sit on your teeth for too long, bit by bit they will damage the hard surfaces of the tooth, which allow bacteria and food particles to enter the tooth. As this process continues, the buildup can cause the formation of a dental cavity.
Symptoms of Dental Caries
Dental cavities may or may not have direct symptoms. However, some of the most common associated with dental caries include:
- Toothache or sensitivity to heat or cold
- Visible holes or pits in your teeth
- Brown, black or white staining on the surface(s) of the tooth
- Pain when you bite down
Cavities can form on any surface of the tooth. They can even form between two teeth. This is often a result of improper or infrequent oral hygiene routine that includes regular brushing and flossing. Most people are not aware that a cavity is forming. That’s why it’s important to have regular dental checkups and cleanings, even if your mouth feels fine. If you experience toothache or mouth pain, it is always best to visit Dr. Visanescu for an evaluation as soon as possible.
If left untreated, dental cavities will allow more and more bacteria inside of the tooth, causing increasing decay. This can result in dental emergencies such as pain, infection, abscess, or loss of the tooth. Treating dental cavities is a very routine and simple procedure called dental filling. Dental fillings are a common dental treatment, easily completed in a single office visit.
Tooth decay is one of the most common diseases in the world, second only to the common cold. They are also one of the most preventable. Following a good and effective oral hygiene routine for adults and children, plus visiting Dr. Visanescu for regular checkup and cleaning visits every 6 months, is the best possible way to prevent dental cavities, or to quickly diagnose and treat them so you can get back on with your life.
Family and Cosmetic Dentistry
La Grange, KY 40031
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