What is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is also called Caries or Cavities. It is characterized by the destruction and degradation of Enamel, which is the teeth’ outermost layer. The situation typically worsens if it remained unchecked and untreated. The damage can ultimately lead to tooth loss and subsequent infections in gums and roots.
Our teeth are developed inside the gums during fetal life and appear from 4 to 6 months after birth. Our teeth bear a lot of pressure in our lifetime, beginning right from the ‘Teething Period.’ To sink one’s teeth in a project to achieve one’s goal, one must have a splendid set of teeth.
- Tooth decay does not usually occur overnight. It is a result of bad dental hygiene for the long term.
- Insufficient calcium diet also led to the early decaying of teeth.
- The accompanying issues such as bad breath, blisters, swelling and infection in the gums, etc., are almost always present.
- Once the Decay reaches to dentine layer of teeth, the damage control becomes more difficult and prolonged.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of toothache?
Tooth decay does not occur overnight or even over a period of few days. Some of the following symptoms began to appear in weeks and months, leading to tooth cavity or a Decay appearance.
- Sharp and teasing pain in a specific tooth esp. while eating or drinking.
- Frequently having lousy breath even after a few hours of brushing the teeth.
- Sour or bitter taste in the mouth. This typical taste is also observed on an empty stomach.
- Sensitivity and swelling on one side of the gums or teeth.
- The facial area covering the decaying tooth also sometimes becomes swollen or puffy.
What are the Stages of tooth decay?
Tooth decay is usually distributed into five primary stages:
Demineralization and appearance of white spots on teeth
- It is the initial step and can be stopped and reversed.
- it is at this stage that the Enamel begins to get damaged
Enamel begins to Decay
- The outer layer of teeth is called Enamel. It begins to tear off.
- The white spots beg to turn to blackish brown.
The dentin layer gets damaged.
- It is the layer present beneath the Enamel
- It is relatively soft and therefore more prone to wear and tear
- Nerve endings also innervate it. The damage to nerve endings can induce sensitivity and pain.
Damage to the pulp layer:
Pulp is present under the Dentin layer. Severe bacterial infection and the acidic foods can cause serious damage to pulp layer. This is the stage IV of tooth decay. At this point toothache is excruciating and can even cause fever and malaise.
- Once the infection reaches stage IV, there is no turning back. The damage is irreversible and requires a Root canal after the removal of infected teeth
- The Decay is so excessive that almost the whole tooth is decomposed or putrefied.
Formation of Abscesses:
An abscess is the formulation and collection of Pus within a tissue or wound. After the infection has reached the pulp’s neuronal endings, the resultant exposure to bacteria leads to pus formation.
- Common symptoms of this stage are pain in the tooth, gums and sometimes even the whole jaw.
- Other symptoms include headaches, fever, facial swelling etc
- If the tooth is left untreated or not immediately removed, the Decay can spread onto other adjoining teeth.
Can Tooth Decay be Reversed?
Anyone suffering from tooth decay wonders if they can fix the tooth decay! The answer is actually simple. The Reversal of Decay and cavity depends upon the stage at which it is treated. The sooner the culprit is caught, the easier the reverse is.
How to Fix Tooth Decay?
The extent of demineralization decides whether the decay can be fixed or not.
- Remineralization can be achieved by consuming a diet rich in calcium.
- Brushing at least twice a day or esp. after any sugary meal can prevent the spread of bacterial infection.
- Sodas and carbonated drinks release carbonic acid that can speed up enamel decay. Therefore, dentists advise to not consume such drinks.
What Foods can prevent tooth decay?
Healthy eating and hygienic habits are the ultimate keys to preventing almost any disease. However, the outcome largely depends on “sticking to a routine” when it comes to dental hygiene. Also, consumption of a certain food group has proved to be extremely beneficial in strengthening the teeth and gums’ integrity. Following are the examples of such foods:
Protein-rich foods are a natural source of micronutrients such as potassium, phosphorus, fluorine, and calcium. These nutrients are required in replenishing the old worn-out Enamel with a new layer. In addition, Proteins are formed of smaller units called Peptides. Peptides manufacture the teeth Enamel.
Example of protein-rich food:
Legumes, vegetables like broccoli, avocados, and certain mushrooms (as an alternative to meat).
Calcium, Magnesium, and Fluoride rich diet:
Enamel is composed of up to 98% of calcium and phosphorous ions. These ions are further carbonated with Fluoride, magnesium, strontium, and lead. It is therefore imperative to consume a diet containing all these micronutrients.
Examples of such food items are:
- Calcium is present in milk, milk products. The vegan source of calcium is Almonds (up to 27-30mg in 10 pieces), Peas, broccoli (up to 60mg/cup), spinach (145mg in one cup)
- Magnesium is present in Pumpkin seeds (up to 170mg/Oz), wheat and cereals, soy milk (up to 50-60mg per cup)
- Fluoride is present in Grape Juice (up to 350µg/cup), water (160µg/cup),
When chewed, watery foods will wash off the sugar and glucose in the diet. This helps in cleaning the oral environment. When chewed, Liquid foods can help get water into the nooks and corners of the jaw. This helps clean the residual food particles and maintain healthy oral microbial flora.
Some examples of such foods are:
Fruits such as watermelons, melons, oranges, etc., vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon, etc. However, all these fruits and vegetables have a high concentration of food glucose and sucrose, but the water content makes up for the potential damage.
The foods containing a pH higher than 7.1 to 14 are called alkaline. The pH of 0 to 6.9 confers to acidic nature. Acidic foods tend to speed up the erosion of enamel and dentine layers. Therefore, dentists advise avoidance of such foods. They also help neutralize the pH of the oral cavity. Thus, consumption of alkaline food groups can help prevent this erosion.
Some examples of such foods are:
Nuts, cereals, lentils, beans, green leafy vegetables, quinoa, fruits such as bananas, etc.
Having that Instagrammable set of teeth that actually shine while shine in the pictures is not merely a feat of filters and editing. It is in fact easier to achieve than abs and tummy tuck.
It is not only the hygienic habits and cleansing routines that help prevent or reverse tooth decay. But, in fact a lifestyle centered around healthy eating also makes a profound difference in keeping that “tooth decay at a bay”.