Tooth decay is one of the most common and ignored dental problem. Though it can be treated and even reversed but if ignored it becomes the starting of various other issues like cavity, bad breath and headache.
Tooth decay can happen to a person of any age but usually it happens in children and teenagers.
There are various stages in which tooth decay occurs, but for understanding that you need to understand the basic structure of the teeth first.
Teeth can be divided into two structures namely external and internal.
External structure can be further divided into two:
- Crown: the part that is near the gums.
- Root: the part that’s below the gums.
Internal structure consists of the following:
- Pulp: the core of the teeth consisting of blood vessels.
- Dentin: the covering layer of the pulp.
- Enamel: the protective layer around the crown.
- Cementum: the layer covering the tooth root.
So, tooth decay is the slow process of degradation of the teeth caused due to the following reasons:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Diet rich in sugar, salt and soda.
The food we eat tends to stick to our teeth, and if it is not removed by either brushing or flossing the bacteria starts working on that food. And in that process it tends to spoil the enamel which makes the teeth weak and vulnerable. As the process moves forward, the infection starts going deeper, even affecting the nearby teeth.
Here are the early symptoms of tooth decay that will help you in treating the issue timely:
1. White spots: appearance of white/yellow spots on the teeth is the first stage of tooth decay. The reason for this is loss of calcium. This stage is easily reversible and all it needs is some fluoride and little extra brushing and flossing to counter the decaying process.
2. Enamel decay: this is the next stage of tooth decay process and in this enamel inside the surface start to break. If not treated it will lead to breakage of the surface of the teeth. This usually is easily cured by a filling done by a dentist.
3. Dentin decay: this is the third stage and in this the damage after effecting the enamel reaches dentin. This stage is usually recognized by the pain which starts happening around the teeth. Any such pain should not be ignored and should be a good reason for you to visit a dentist and get a filling done.
4. Affecting the pulp: this is the stage where the problem gets serious and deeper. The bacteria/infection starts affecting the pulp, which is the core of the teeth. This causes extreme pain and in some cases, pus formation. The blood and nerves start getting effected. The only way to cure tooth decay in this stage is a root canal treatment.
5. Formation of abscess: this is the last and final stage of the tooth decay. In this the infection reached the extreme bottom of the teeth and even starts affecting the bones around. It is marked by unbearable pain and swelling around the affected area. The only way is to get a course of antibiotics and painkiller along with root canal. If the problem still persists, removing the teeth is the only option.
Some of the common symptoms of this serious problem are:
- Intense pain in the teeth.
- Bad taste in the mouth.
- Teeth sensitivity
- Bad breath
- General discomfort.
- Swelling in the neck glands
If you spot any of the above mentioned symptoms don’t wait or ignore. Visit the dentist and let him tell you the required treatment as any further delay from your side can cause extreme pain and you may even end up losing the affected teeth.
Tooth decay is a small problem which if taken care of timely can easily be treated. For avoiding it all together practice good oral hygiene habits like brushing effectively twice a day, flossing, using a mouthwash, eating a balanced nutritious diet and avoiding junk food like potato chips, gummy candies and soda which are the main culprit for tooth decay.