Tooth decay is the most prevalent form of dental disease affecting most people. While the causes are primarily as a result of lifestyle habits, other underlying health conditions can contribute to tooth decay. The decay is as a result of acid attack on the enamel of the tooth exposing the inner layers of the tooth. Tooth decay can start on one tooth but soon spread to other teeth if left unattended.
Remember the mouth is full of bacteria, both useful and harmful. Harmful bacteria are what cause many dental problems such as cavities. One affected tooth plays host to these bacteria prompting their multiplication and spread to the surrounding teeth.
What are the causes of tooth decay?
Tooth decay is treated as a dental disease caused by the following:
Ignorance of dental hygiene – If you do not brush and floss your teeth regularly, you are encouraging the buildup of plaque and bacteria in your mouth. The action of bacteria on the plaque produces acids which weaken your enamel eventually disintegrating it. Once the enamel is damaged and the inner parts of the tooth exposed, your tooth begins to decay. It is recommended you brush your teeth at least twice a day, and immediately after consuming foods with high sugar content.
Consuming highly acidic foods, foods rich in carbohydrates and sugar – Acidic foods expose your teeth to acids that damage its enamel. Continuous intake of acidic food leads to several teeth being affected as their enamel disintegrates. Foods rich in carbohydrates and sugar encourage the buildup of plaque on the enamel. The action of bacteria on this plaque produces acids which destroy the protective layer of the teeth exposing them to tooth decay.
Smoking – Smoking raises the acidity of your mouth encouraging bacterial action on your teeth.
Diabetes and blood pressure – These diseases cause the mouth to dry limiting the amount of saliva needed to wash away the bacteria. As a result, the bacteria remain in the mouth and their activity on the accumulated plaque leads to tooth decay.
Age – The young and elderly are most affected by tooth decay. For the young ones, the minerals on their teeth are not stable hence break down easily. The elderly have the enamel worn out exposing their gums and inner parts of their teeth.
Assessing tooth decay
While assessing tooth decay, an in-depth diagnosis of the primary cause of the decay should be the main goal. From the results, proper treatment will be administered to prevent further damage.
Determine the underlying cause of decay – Like established above, tooth decay is caused by a number of reasons. The first step towards analysis and treatment is determining the primary cause and treating or eliminating this. If the cause is medical, treat the medical condition. If it is hygienic or dietary, proper advice on hygiene and diet recommendations will be provided by your dentist to help curb the spread of the decay.
Outline treatment options – Treatment options will depend on the cause of the decay and the extent of damage to your teeth. The most common form of treatment is filling the exposed parts of the teeth preventing further decay. Dental crowns can also be fixed to restore the aesthetic value of the teeth. In case of other underlying diseases, the treatment option will involve treating these diseases first before treating the decayed tooth.
Lifestyle audits and restructuring – Lifestyle habits have an influence on your dental health. By asking a few questions, your dentist will be able to determine whether your lifestyle contributes to your tooth decay. In that case, he will make recommendations on changes to make to avoid further decay if your teeth.
The prevalence of tooth decay is partly due to ignorance by the patient. Being in the know of what causes tooth decay and how to prevent this goes a long way in maintaining your dental health. Regular dental checkups and consultation with your dentist are a good way to maintain perfect, healthy teeth.