Tooth decay is one of the most common dental conditions.
To avoid its incidence, it is vital to know the techniques of oral hygiene and respect the guidelines set by the specialist.
In this article, we will talk about caries, what are its causes, and its consequences on our oral health.
In addition, we explain what types of cavities exist and how to prevent them.
What is a cavity?
Caries are an injury to the dental structure caused by the action of the acids of bacterial plaque that have not been successfully removed.
Tooth decay begins by damaging tooth enamel, the outer layer that protects teeth.
If it is not treated in time, the injury progresses until it affects the dentin and, subsequently, the nerve of the tooth.
These dental layers do not regenerate, so caries is an irreversible lesion that affects both women and men of all ages.
In cases of very advanced caries that have damaged the nerve, there is no conservative dental treatment that can correct the damage, and the patient ends up losing the piece.
To avoid reaching such a point, an endodontic procedure is indicated, which we will discuss later.
But, what factors affect the appearance of caries?
What are the causes of cavities?
Bacterial plaque is a thin, transparent film that covers the tooth surface.
The bacteria present in our mouth adhere to it.
Specialists classify plaque based on the bacteria that form it:
- Periodontopathogenic plaque responsible for periodontal diseases
- Cariogenic plaque releases acids onto the tooth surface, damaging it.
It is this second type of bacteria that is responsible for the formation of dental caries.
To avoid the accumulation of plaque and dental caries, dentists stress that it is vitally important to maintain suitable oral hygiene routines.
For this reason, we can say that the main cause of the formation of carious lesions is poor oral hygiene.
But, in addition, there are other factors that influence their appearance:
- A diet high in sugar
- Genetic factors, such as the hardness of dental enamel or the response of people to the presence of bacteria in the oral cavity.
- Mouth dryness is caused by the secretion of lower levels of saliva.
Xerostomia can be caused by certain diseases, the intake of certain medications or radiotherapy, and chemotherapy treatments.
Don’t wait for it to hurt.
When tooth decay causes pain, it means that it has already surpassed the first layer of the tooth. To avoid this, visit the dentist frequently.
What types of cavities are there?
Initially, tooth decay begins by affecting the outermost layer of the dental surface: the enamel.
It can be detected by observing the appearance of a white spot on the dental crown or by the presence of a small indentation.
If not treated in time, this injury continues to progress until it damages the dentin.
Once it progresses to this point, it begins to generate pain.
Yellowish in appearance, caries on the dentin surface progress much faster than enamel caries, eventually damaging deep dentin.
In some cases, caries very quickly damage the tissues of the tooth: the pulp and the dental crown.
We speak, then, of rampant caries.
Rampant tooth decay affects people of all ages, although it is especially common in babies.
Over time these spots darken and present brown and black tones.
In addition, experts distinguish various types of caries based on the affected dental area.
In this way, they establish a categorization in which up to five different classes of caries can be discerned.
Tooth decay is the most common oral disease, and if it is not treated in time, you can lose your tooth.
Crown caries are the most common among children and usually appear on the chewing surface of teeth.
It can be detected with the naked eye because it discolors the tooth it is damaging.
Through small fissures or cracks in the tooth surface, pathogens penetrate the dental tissues.
Fissure caries has a higher incidence in posterior teeth – molars – and are especially common in children and adolescents.
FOOD AND DENTAL HYGIENE
They are the injuries produced in the root of the tooth, being one of the main causes of loss of pieces.
The root can be exposed due to periodontal disease or aggressive brushing.
As a consequence, the gum retracts and stops protecting this part of the tooth.
As it is not covered by dental enamel, bacterial plaque directly affects dentin.
They affect the interproximal space, that is, the space between two teeth.
It is an area that is difficult to access and where food remains accumulate.
Normally, it is not given the attention it deserves, despite the fact that it involves 40% of oral hygiene.
Detecting this type of caries is only possible in a dental clinic by means of a specific x-ray.
Recurring or secondary
Secondary caries affects adjacent areas where there has already been a previous lesion.
New caries may occur or be caused by the remnants of a previous one that has not been treated in time.
Treatments for carious lesions
The specialty of Conservative Dentistry is responsible for solving caries problems.
In addition, it includes treatments aimed at keeping teeth healthy and preventing their extraction.
Thus, depending on the severity of caries, it is possible to opt for different procedures.
What is a shutter?
A filling or dental filling is the treatment to solve a cavity that has formed on the enamel surface.
With this process, the advance of bacteria is stopped, and their arrival at the pulp tissue or nerve is prevented.
Once the caries are removed, a small reconstruction is made with a material called composite.
If a filling is not done on time, the decay progresses to the pulp, and endodontics or root canal treatment will have to be used.
This intervention is indicated in cases of serious damage and is the last resort to save a piece and avoid extraction.
It consists of the elimination of the neurovascular bundle (pulpal tissue or nerve) that is inside the dental root in order to preserve its masticatory function.
In some cases, the tooth structure is visibly damaged, and performing an endodontic involves a risk of fracture of the tooth.
For this reason, if there is not enough dental structure, a fiberglass post is placed.
A cover or dental crown will later be placed on it.
As we have mentioned before, factors such as oral hygiene or lifestyle have an important influence on the formation of cavities.
So, what precautions can be taken to avoid the appearance of these injuries?
Can this disease be prevented?
Since tooth decay occurs as a result of the accumulation of bacteria, it can be avoided.
The basis of oral health is rigorous oral hygiene.
Specialists recommend brushing after each meal to properly remove food debris and bacteria present in the mouth.
In addition, the use of dental floss or interproximal brushes is recommended to avoid, for example, the formation of interdental caries.
Remember that you must make regular visits to the dentist to check the condition of your mouth.
All this, together with professional hygiene -prophylaxis- every eight months, will keep your teeth strong and healthy.
Finally, you should bear in mind that maintaining an unbalanced diet favors the appearance of carious lesions.
Caries are a pathology that, if not treated in time, can damage the dental nerve and cause tooth loss.
Therefore, it is vitally important that you go to the specialist at the slightest suspicion of suffering from your condition.
If you want more information about the procedures to treat them or want to make an appointment with us.