Monday, 28 August 2017

DENTAL CARIES (Tooth decay or Tooth cavities) AND YOU

DENTAL CARIES (Tooth decay or Tooth cavities)

Tom had always been good looking and it was a fact that he was very aware much aware of. He knew he was good looking and revelled in the knowledge so much he became unbearable to live with. Tom lost a lot of his friends due to his pride and obnoxious attitude but he did not notice. He had Fred, who was also as intimidatingly handsome like him and almost as unbearable. Tom began to put life in perspective when Fred was diagnosed with cancer in high school and died after struggling with it for close to a year. The doctors said he had gotten to the last stage before they found out. Tom had been distraught but he had also learnt that life was really vain and all the beauty in the world is not what adds meaning to life but the life one touches on the way. He had after all seen Fred become a shadow himself before finally kicking the bucket. 

When Tom discovered the patches grow on his teeth, he was scared karma had finally caught up with him like it did his friend, and he had developed cancer to pay for all the times he treated people badly. His mother had to practically drag him to the hospital because he didn’t want his fears to be confirmed. However, after a visit to the doctor, he was soon to find out that it was merely tooth decay that had caught with him for all those years spent not taking care of his teeth. He didn’t have cancer, he had Dental Caries.

What is Dental Caries?

Dental Caries is basically tooth decay or tooth cavities. It is the major oral disorder in most countries; it has to do with the breakdown of the teeth due to the activities of bacteria. The bacteria produce acid that destroys the tooth's enamel and the layer under it, called the dentin. Different bacteria usually lives in the human mouth, they are built up on the teeth in sticky biofilm called a plaque. Bits of the food we eat, especially sugar are what feed these bacteria to grow more than normal. In consequence, dieting often in simple sugar is a high risk of tooth cavities. However, what happens to cause tooth decay is if the mineral build-up of saliva is less than the breakdown. Thus, conditions like diabetes mellitus, Sjogren's syndrome, diabetes insipidus, sarcoidosis, some medications such as antihistamines and antidepressants that decrease saliva production are high risk factors of tooth decay. Stimulants, most especially methylamphetamine and the active chemical substance in cannabis, also causes almost total prevention of the production of saliva. Caries can also attack the roots of teeth should they become exposed by gum recession. The disease is mostly found in older adults.
Signs and Symptoms
A person suffering from Dental Caries may not be aware initially. The first sign would be the physical changes that would occur on the teeth. Usually, a small patch of soft enamel appears at the tooth surface, although it is often hidden from sight in the grooves of the teeth or in between the teeth. The colour of the small patch could range from black to white. How this works is that as this is left untreated, the teeth begin to break down gradually before finally a cavity appears that would completely change the shape of the teeth. Before a cavity comes into the picture, the regeneration can be reversed and the bacteria affecting the teeth killed but if after a cavity is formed, it cannot be reversed. Other signs and symptoms include tooth ache, difficulty chewing, numb teeth (whereby the affected teeth would no longer hot or cold), and foul breathe in some extreme cases.

The good news is that like many diseases, tooth cavities can be prevented.
·        The most obvious way to prevent tooth cavity is proper dental hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day and do it properly, not hurriedly.
·        Another way is to avoid diets with simple sugar as much as you can
·        Use fluoride. Some water sources naturally contain fluoride but the availability is limited. Many types of toothpaste fortunately contain fluoride. If yours doesn’t, you might want to invest in one that does.
·        Pit and fissure sealant is also another way of preventing caries. A sealant is a thin plastic-like coating applied to the chewing surfaces of the teeth to prevent the access of plaque and plaque acids to the enamel surface.

Sometimes caries may be directly visible but most times, they are hidden. So it would take more than using the physical eyes to see the small patches on the teeth.
·        Dental mirror and explorer a good light source can be used to detect caries on the noticeable surface of the teeth. Although some dental experts have advised against using dental explorers, especially sharp-ended explorer.
·        Dental radiography (X-ray) is used for the less noticeable areas of the teeth and to ascertain the degree of destruction.
·        Lasers for detecting caries make it possible to spot the decay without ionizing radiation and they are now used for detection of interproximal decay (between the teeth).
·        Disclosing solutions are also used during tooth restoration to minimize the chance of recurrence.

·        In the early stage, the tooth decay can be stopped and even reversed. Fluorides and other preventive measure like sealants can help reverse decay.
·        When the tooth is degenerated, it would take a dentist to repair it. The standard treatment for a cavity is to fill the tooth. Depending on the method used, numbing the affected area might be required. If a drill is used, the dentist will numb the area. If a laser is used, a numbing shot is not usually required. The decayed material in the cavity is removed and the cavity is filled.
·        However, if a cavity is large, the residual tooth may not be able to support enough filling material to repair it. In this situation, the dentist will remove the decay and cover the tooth with a ceramic inlay, onlay or artificial crown.

·        If the bacteria further attacks the pulp deep into the root of the teeth, then it would require root canal treatment, which involves removing the pulp and replacing it with an inert material. In many cases, the tooth will need a crown.


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