Remedies for toot decay, cavity

Dental cavities are holes in teeth caused by tooth decay. Cavities are also referred to as caries. Two main factors contribute to tooth decay — bacteria and a diet high in sugar and starch. There are over 500 different types of bacteria that are normally present in the mouth. These bacteria combine with food and saliva to form a sticky substance called plaque that attaches to teeth. Foods rich in starches add to the stickiness of the plaque, which begins to get hard if it remains on the teeth after a couple of days and turns into tartar or calculus. Bacteria in the plaque convert sugar into acid that dissolves the tooth structure causing holes, or cavities. Because of these two contributing factors, dental caries have been described as a “dietobacterial” disease The parts of teeth that are most vulnerable to tooth decay are areas where plaque can accumulate most easily. Plaque tends to settle into the pits and fissures in the tops of teeth, into the areas in between the teeth, and next to the gum line. Where there is plaque, there are bacteria and acid, and eventually destruction of the tooth surface. The cavity starts in the outer layer of the tooth (enamel) and as it gets deeper, penetrates into the softer inner layer of the tooth (dentin.) Typically, it isn’t until the decay reaches the dentin that a person will start to notice signs and symptoms of the cavity. Saliva helps prevent plaque from attaching to teeth and helps wash away and digest food particles. A low salivary flow or dry mouth leaves the teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay. Genetic factors that affect tooth decay are tooth size and shape, thickness of enamel, tooth position, tooth eruption time and sequence, and the bite.
Prevention — A greater emphasis on preventive dentistry has helped reduce the incidence of premature tooth loss. Since we can’t eliminate the bacteria that are in the mouth, limiting the amount and frequency of sugars and starches in our diet is the easiest way to prevent dental caries. Maintaining a healthy diet to prevent tooth decay is very important inchildren and toddlers both for baby teeth and as they start to get their adult teeth. Sugary soft drinks and juices are especially harmful to the teeth. When possible, sweeteners such as sucralose should be substituted for sucrose because they can’t be digested by bacteria. Xylitol is another sugar substitute that actually kills bacteria, so chewing xylitol gum after meals will greatly reduce the incidence of cavities. Plaque can be removed from the outside of teeth by brushing and from in between the teeth with dental floss. Use of a mouthwash also helps by limiting the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth. A dentist will often suggest placing plastic sealants in the pits and grooves of teeth in children to protect them from decay. Visiting the dentist regularly will help prevent cavities from forming, or catch them when they’re small.



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