What Are The Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment of Dental Caries?
Dental caries or tooth decay is one of the major persistent diseases in the world today. Fortunately, it is also amongst the most preventable diseases. After eating certain types of food, the bacteria found on our teeth break the food down and release some acids which damage the hard tissues in the teeth. This leads to tooth decay if proper dental care is not observed. As the tooth decay advances, you will experience some signs and symptoms listed below:
Signs and symptoms
- Pain: Toothache is the main symptom of a tooth cavity.
- Pits: In some cases, you will notice a pit or a hole in the tooth that is affected. At times this may be visible only through dental x-rays.
- Pressure: If you experience tooth sensitivity regularly or some pain when biting, you may have a tooth cavity.
- Pus: In advanced stages of tooth decay, one may notice pus around the affected tooth. This is alarming and needs immediate consultation with a dental specialist.
Other major signs of tooth decay include tooth sensitivity, especially when eating hot, cold or sweet foods and drinks. These symptoms indicate advanced stages of tooth decay, which calls for an immediate appointment with your family dentist.
- Fillings: This is the main method used to treat dental caries. A general dentist uses dental sedation to prepare the affected tooth, then drills the area with the decay and removes it. Finally, the empty space is filled with a suitable material. As dental filling materials are different, the dentist will choose the appropriate one according to where the decay is located.
- Crowns: Crowns are used to treat tooth cavities only when a big part of the tooth is affected by the disease. If the cavity is very big it will require a large filling. As a result, the tooth will develop cracks easily and finally break. This requires dental work to salvage the tooth, repair it and fit it with porcelain or alloy crown covering.
- Root Canals: As tooth decay advances, it penetrates through the enamel and affects the central part of the tooth. It can also progress and destroy the nerves, which are located in the roots. The dentist will remove the damaged nerves together with the blood vessel tissue and then fill that hole. Lastly, the dentist will cover the affected area with a crown.
- Extraction: If the tooth is damaged completely such that it can’t be repaired, then it’s extracted to prevent the infection from affecting the jaw bone. Sometimes this procedure can interfere with the alignment of other teeth left in the mouth. In such cases, the dentist may recommend dental implants, bridges or dentures to be inserted in the affected areas. Research indicates that about 3 million people have dental implants and that number is growing by 500,000 a year.
Even though dental caries can have detrimental side effects if left unattended, it can largely be prevented. This calls for proper dental care which includes great oral hygiene and consistent dental checkups. If any sign of poor oral hygiene is identified early, this can prevent dental diseases and tooth decay. Research shows that at least one in five Americans has one or more untreated cavities. As a rather alarming statistic, everyone should put dental care amongst their top priorities and parents need to help their kids observe proper oral hygiene and attend regular checkups.