What is Tooth Caries (Tooth Decay)? It is an infectious diseases resulting in a progressive destruction of tooth structure.
Dental Caries is the result of interaction between bacteria from dental plaque, fermentable carbohydrates (sugar), and tooth tissue over a period of time and can only occur when all these factors are present.
The Process of Dental Caries Formation:
Many micro-organisms are involved in the caries process, the most important are Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacilli. These organisms metabolise sugars (from our food and drinks) and produce Lactic Acid by-product. This increases the acidity on the tooth surface. When the pH level reaches a critical level (pH 5.2-5.5 for enamel & pH 6.0-6.5 for dentine), demineralisation of the tooth surface occurs. This eventually results in the formation of Dental Caries (Decay).
However, if the pH rises again above this critical pH level, the process is reversed and remineralization of tooth surface takes place.
- Tooth sensitivity.
- Mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking something sweet, hot or cold.
- Visible holes or pits in your teeth.
- Brown, black or white staining on any surface of a tooth.
- Pain when you bite down.
How To Prevent Dental Caries (Tooth Decay)?
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily with a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Preferably, brush after each meal and especially before going to bed.
- Clean between your teeth daily with dental floss or interdental cleaners.
- Rinse daily with a fluoride-containing mouthwash.
- Eat nutritious and balanced meals.
- Limit snacks. (Avoid carbohydrates such as candy, pretzels and chips, which can remain on the tooth surface.)
- Check with your dentist about use of supplemental fluoride or periodic fluoride treatments.
- Ask your dentist about dental sealants (a plastic protective coating) applied to the chewing surfaces of your back teeth (molars) to protect them from decay.
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exam.
Treatments of Dental Caries (carried out by dentists):
Treatment of tooth decay depends on how advanced it is.
- Application of Fluoride Gel, Varnish or Paste
- Dental Restorations (Fillings)
- Dental Inlay
- Dental Onlay
- Dental Crown
- Root Canal Treatment (If the Caries has spread to the Pulp)
- Extraction of Tooth (If the tooth is so badly damaged that it can’t be restored)
Prevention is always better than cure. Start practising Good Oral Hygiene daily to enjoy your healthy lifestyle.
Your Dentition. Our Passion.
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Article written by,
Dr. Wong Kee Cheong (Tommy)