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Tooth Decay : Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Friday, August 10th 2012. | Dental Disease, Disease

Tooth Decay Definition

Called a bunt infectious disease that damages the tooth structure. The most common lesion in the world is tooth decay.

Caries is the progressive destruction of tooth tissue . The teeth are organs located in the maxillary, two bony arches which together constitute the jaw. They are made of ivory (or dentin) and are covered with a hard white substance (enamel). Inside there is a cavity filled with pulp which is a fabric made of fibers and cells.

Its determinants (including behavioral) are brushing your teeth , use of fluoride , the eating habits . Acids weaken the teeth by causing enamel demineralization. This is the first step demineralization of tooth decay or tooth disease. Some foods are naturally acidic and hence cariogenic for the teeth (fruit juice, soda, cola, ketchup …). Further, sugars, are used by bacteria naturally present in the oral flora. These bacteria thrive where persistent food scraps they use for their metabolism. They form a coating on teeth called dental plaque bacteria . Dental plaque develops rapidly after a meal. It can be observed by staining revealing layer plate (available in pharmacies and supermarkets). Effective brushing removes the plaque.

Tooth Decay

Tooth Decay (img thanks to : vanguarddentalgroup.com)

Dental caries and medical complications are quite common, despite the significant improvement recorded in recent decades in all industrialized countries. Epidemiological data show a significant improvement in the state of oral health of children. At the age of 12 years, the caries increment was 4.20 in 1987 and 1.94 in 1998 fell to 1.23 in 2006.

The frequency of caries varies between populations, however, between individuals and within the same individual over time. The conditions of access and use of care pose obvious equality issues, including social, in health. Conservative and prosthetic care needed to treat tooth decay are the source of significant costs for consumers and for health insurance.

Tooth Decay Causes

The origins are multiple cavities.

Three major causes involved in the development of caries:

  • The general condition of the person’s age, sex
  • The environment of the tooth
  • The presence of bacteria in which lactobacilli and streptococci are primarily responsible
  • Diet, it is rich in carbohydrates and sticky foods and soft.

Decay is caused by the action of bacteria in plaque that convert sugars into acids. These will promote the dissolution of tooth enamel by lowering the surrounding pH, allowing bacteria to move towards the depth of the tooth.

Tooth Decay  Risk factors :

The scheme Keyes explains that caries can not develop without the interference of four factors:

  • The bacterial plaque: more than 60 to 70 different species of bacteria live in the mouth of man. They are bacterial plaque. Some, such as anaerobic bacteria, are responsible for gingival diseases. Others, such as streptococci and lactobacilli, promote the development of caries. An oral environment rich in these bacteria present more risk of developing cavities.
  • Food : rich in acidic, it will promote the demineralization of enamel. Rich in sugars and snacks made from constant or balanced on the contrary, it will promote or limit the development of dental plaque.
  • The plot: some of us are more fragile than others, whose teeth enamel is thin, poorly mineralized, less resistant to acids by plaque bacteria. Teeth of high relief, poorly positioned, more easily retain food debris and promote the accumulation of bacterial plaque.
  • Time: whenever three factors – dental plaque, teeth, food – are gathered, there is a risk to the teeth. But tooth decay or gum disease takes time to build up.

Tooth Decay Think

The tooth is progressively destroyed by his hard tissue demineralization. Decay is still progressing from the outside to the inside of the tooth. There are four stages of evolution:

Stage 1: destruction of the enamel, no pain.

Stage 2: dentin is attacked. Softer than enamel, it will leave the disease to spread deeply. The hot, cold, sweet and acid can cause pain.

Stage 3: bacterial invasion progresses and attack the pulp.Severe spontaneous pain appear, it is the toothache.

Stage 4: bacterial growth progresses to the tissues surrounding the tooth (ligament, bone, gum). It is the dental abscess. The focus of infection may be the cause of diseases remotely: microbes can migrate through the bloodstream throughout the body: the heart, sinuses, kidneys, eyes, joints ….

We must remember that, without treatment, the decay process is still evolving. There is no cure nor spontaneous cessation of the disease.

Tooth Decay Symptoms

Decay alone does not cause pain. It exposes the pulp of the tooth and causes irritation to a sensitivity to certain stimuli.In addition, it reaches the hard tissues at different levels.

Caries in the enamel on the tooth color localized.

Caries in dentin: increased sensitivity to sweet; color located on the tooth cavity in the tooth.

Decay to the tooth pulp: intermittent or continuous pain to hot, cold and sweet; risk of bad breath deeper cavity in the tooth; possibility of pulp necrosis, death of the nerve (usually painless); transformation possible acute abscess (swelling, fever and pain) or chronic (without symptoms) until the complete destruction of the tooth.

Tooth Decay Treatment

If the decay affects only the enamel or dentin, the dentist can make a shutter using a composite or silver amalgam.

If the tooth is badly damaged, it must be restored with a crown.

By cons, if the nerve is reached, the dentist must devitalizing the tooth because the pulp is now unrecoverable. It is therefore necessary to root canal treatment.

A cavity that is not addressed and continues to grow the bacteria will eventually attack the alveolar bone under the root. This will result in a painful abscess that will treat with antibiotics and then move to root canal treatment or extraction, depending on the condition of the tooth. A chronic lesion can also occur, resulting in a small pimple on the gum.It’s not painful, but there is still an infection that can last for years if not treated during a root canal.

Tooth Decay Prevent

Prevention of dental caries requires above all:

  • Good oral hygiene
  • Regular brushing of the teeth (at least twice daily, morning and night) preferably after every meal
  • Avoidance of sugary beverages like soda too, syrups and fruit juices.

Regular consultation with the dentist will screen for tooth decay and treat it early.

The High Authority for Health (HAS) recommends for the general population brushing teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. In children under 6 years, the fluoride content of toothpaste should be age-appropriate (less than or equal to 500 ppm for children between 0 and 3 years, 500 ppm between 3 and 6 years) and brushing teeth should be performed by adults for children 0-3 years and oversaw between 3 to 6 years.

Reducing the frequency of food intake between meals is recommended (snacking, including soft drinks).

HAS recommends the participation of all children and adolescents aged 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18 years for checkups offered under the program to prevent Medicare (M’T teeth).


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