It is really unpleasant noticing one of your teeth has a different colour stain. Especially if that happens when you in a hurry for a meeting. Your smile is destroyed, the mood too. Not to mention the plans. You have tooth decay. The question is, "Right now?" Actually, there is no right time. The reasons for developing caries are many. To a large extent, they also depend on your lifestyle. In fact, it is one of the most common dental problems that can affect people of all ages - children, adolescents, and adults.
If you are wondering how to get rid of tooth decay read the following lines.
What is tooth decay?
It is a disease of the hard tooth tissues, which leads to their destruction, and if the process remains untreated - to pulpitis. The cavities formed in the teeth are permanently damaged hard dental tissues. They result from a combination of factors, including bacteria that grow in the oral cavity, frequent eating, intake of sugary and carbonated beverages, and poor oral hygiene.
Prevention is very important. If caries does not develop, its complications such as pulpitis and periodontitis will not develop as well. That's why you should have perfect oral hygiene and regular preventive examinations by a dentist or a dental hygienist (every 6 months).
What causes tooth decay?
In adults. As we mentioned, the reasons are many. Genetic factors may be a prerequisite for this dental problem. However, the development of caries in adult teeth mainly depends on diet and hygiene habits. As well as how much you love sweet and how often you eat food rich in carbohydrates. Food debris and sugars affect the surface of the teeth. When food is broken down, acids form in the mouth. They affect your enamel. If you have poor oral hygiene, this will last longer. And you probably are wondering if you left it untreated can teeth decay spread to other teeth? Basically, caries is not contagious but the bacteria that cause it can spread. The main reason for getting this bacteria is sugary food.
Tooth decay in children
The causes of tooth decay in kids are very complex and even some of them are established during pregnancy and in the first months after birth, before the appearance of the first teeth. Some of the conditions that are predisposing to the development of early childhood caries include1:
- smoking during pregnancy2;
- premature birth;
- conditions in which salivation is impaired - saliva washes away food debris in the mouth and protects against heartburn; salivation decreases during sleep or in diseases such as asthma, diabetes, prematurity, etc., as well as when taking certain medications;
- chronic diseases, especially metabolic and hormonal;
- malnutrition - often due to chronic diseases;
- dental problems and caries in the mother;
- poor oral hygiene.
Tooth decay symptoms
The most common symptom of dental caries is a pain when consuming sweet, hot, or cold foods and drinks. However, pain can occur in an advanced stage of the disease. The dental cavity can be visible as the teeth have a different colour stain. Most of the time caries are detected early in a routine examination. If you feel pain in any of your teeth, do not delay the consultation with a specialist.
Here are some tips on how to relieve tooth decay pain until your appointment:
- Rinse your mouth with salt water;
- Apply a cold compress to the affected area;
- Use cooled down peppermint tea bags;
- Apply a garlic paste to the affected area.
How is tooth decay treated?
The treatment depends on the stage of its development.
Early-stage caries can be treated easier because there is no hole in the tooth. The dentist may recommend reducing sugary foods and drinks and brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Your dentist may also apply a fluoride gel to the affected area. Fluoride applications can help restore the affected enamel.
For the advanced stage of cavities when the hole has formed in the teeth the treatment may include:
- Fillings. Tooth decay filling is the main healing method in everyday practice3.
- Crowns. Very large carious lesions that destroy much of the visible part of the tooth require the placement of dental crowns.
- Root canal treatment. When the cavity reaches the inner part of the dental pulp endodontic therapy is necessary.
What therapeutic manipulation will be performed depends on the judgment of the dentists. Regular preventive examinations help in the early detection of the disease and its treatment in the initial stage.
How is wisdom tooth decay treated?
National Dental Centre Singapore advises extracting the wisdom teeth early as this reduces the chance of developing dental problems as you age.
Because the wisdom teeth are located far back in the oral cavity, their cleaning is very difficult. Therefore, dental caries can easily develop there and often grows into pulpitis.
In some early-stages of caries, your dentist might be able to repair your wisdom tooth and restore it like any other.
If you have wisdom tooth decay pain visit a dentist as soon as you can.
How is tooth decay under crown treated?
If you develop caries under the crown your doctor will need to remove the crown and treat the tooth. Like with regular dental caries, if it is at an early stage dental filling procedure might be helpful. If the rot reaches the nerve centre of your tooth your dentist will have to perform root canal therapy. When the tooth is completely healed the crown will be replaced.
In some cases when the tooth under crown is severely affected, tooth extraction might be necessary, however that is not always the case, especially with wisdom teeth. It has been growing practice to preventively extract wisdom teeth in teenage years, but that practice has been put under reconsideration in the last few years by experts4.
How much is tooth decay treatment in Singapore?
According to the guide that has been published by The Ministry of Health in Singapore a single capping or crown can cost around $500 - $1000 and wisdom teeth surgery cost between $300 – $1,900 per tooth. Root canal treatment for front teeth is something around $200 – $600 per tooth and for molars, the price can be around $800 - $1000. A single consultation with a dentist in Singapore costs around $80 - $150.
How to prevent tooth decay?
- Avoid sweets, candies, sodas, and all other products that contain processed sugars. Instead, eat foods that prevent tooth decay such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and so on.
- Eat four times a day. Try to limit your intake to four times a day: breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner.
- Create a brushing routine. First of all, it is good to brush your teeth at least twice a day.
- Don't forget flossing. Flossing is another great way to remove excess food left between your teeth that your brush can't reach.
- Drink water. Have you ever wondered why you are always served water with coffee or a glass of wine in a restaurant? Maybe it improves your breath and helps eliminate bad taste left in the mouth after consuming these drinks. But it is also effective in combating the formation of dental cavities.
Tooth decay in kids - how parents can help their children prevent tooth decay?
Preventing tooth decay in children is usually the responsibility of the parents5. Parents should regularly take their kids for a check-up with a pediatric dentist as soon as milk teeth erupted. The dentist will give the best advice on proper brushing, flossing, eating, and maintaining healthy baby teeth.
Toddler tooth decay is a serious issue, but it can be successfully prevented by making changes to the child’s diet and oral care routines.
Even the healthiest people with the best hygiene habits are likely to get dental caries at least once or twice in their lifetime. Even your dentist will probably have it happen at some point. So, while the ideal option is to prevent caries, don't worry unnecessarily if you are diagnosed with one. The key is to be detected at an early stage and to treat quickly.
- 1. https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/tooth-decay
- 2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5650218/#:~:text=The%20find....
- 3. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/dental-devices/dental-amalgam-fillings
- 4. https://www.sciencealert.com/no-you-probably-don-t-need-to-get-your-wisd...
- 5. https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/childrens-oral-health/index.html