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Cavity – Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

by Anam · November 11, 2020

Here is a complete guide to cavity/tooth decay. It will help you understand:

  • Cavity Meaning & Causes
  • Cavity Symptoms
  • Cavity Prevention
  • Cavity Treatment

1.

Cavity Meaning & Causes

Tooth decay is an infectious disease. First, the enamel is affected, and a cavity forms in the tooth, and then the rot spreads to depth.

If you do not get it treated, the hole enlarges, and the decay can reach the dentin. You start experiencing, especially with hot, cold, or sweet.

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Cavities develop and can spread to the pulp of the tooth. We then speak of toothache. Finally, a tooth abscess can appear when bacteria attack the ligament, bone, or gum tissue.

Anyone of us with teeth can develop cavities including babies. The sugars are said to be one of the main culprits in attacking the enamel. The bacteria present in the mouth, mainly the bacteria Streptococcus mutans and lactobacilli, break down sugars into acids. They bind to acids, food particles, and saliva to form dental plaque, which is the cause of tooth decay. Brushing your teeth removes this plaque.
It is interesting to know that the American Dental Association (ADA) represents more than 159000 dentist members. It is a leading source of oral health information for the profession.

Causes of Cavity Between Teeth

A cavity occurs when foods containing carbohydrates get stuck between teeth and are not entirely removed by brushing and flossing. The acids in plaque generate acidic byproducts that eat away at tooth enamel, slowly creating holes in the teeth called cavities. Eating less of sugary food prevent tooth decay. Left untreated, these holes can get bigger over time and can even destroy the entire tooth.

Let’s discover together the factors at the origin of dental caries!

What are the Risk Factors?

All people, regardless of their age, are susceptible to developing cavities at some point in their life. However, there are many factors that promote the appearance of this infectious disease in the oral cavity. Here are the main ones:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Ineffective or partial tooth brushing
  • Wearing dental appliances
  • Poor positioning of teeth
  • A fluoride intake deficit
  • Unremoved dental plaque that turns into tartar
  • Dryness of the oral cavity (lack of saliva) ie dry mouth
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and heartburn
  • Significant consumption of sweet products
  • Snacking
  • Eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia

How Do You Know If You Have a Cavity?

In the early stages of tooth decay, patients usually do not feel any signs. The decay is still superficial. Therefore, it is essential to have a check-up with your dentist and seek medical advice at least once a year. He will detect this infectious disease and treat it in time to avoid more serious consequences.

Left untreated, patients with cavities may notice the following symptoms:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Formation of small holes visible to the naked
  • Eye on the teeth
  • White, brown, or black spots on the teeth
  • Pain localized to or affecting part of the
  • Face, with no apparent cause
  • Tooth pain while biting food or when you eat
  • Sugary, sour, hot or cold foods or drinks
  • A tooth abscess (bacterial overgrowth in the
  • Gums, ligaments, and bones)

These signs should alert you and prompt you to make an appointment in a dental office without delay.

2.

Cavity Symptoms

Tooth decay begins with superficial painless damage to the enamel. If left untreated, the decay develops in-depth, and the tooth becomes sensitive. However, at each stage of development, treatment is possible.

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Symptoms According to the 4 Stages of Development of a Cavity

Bacterial growth on the surface of the teeth can prevent cavities.

From a simple attack of the enamel at the beginning, the decay can evolve and reach all the structures of the tooth. In the absence of treatment, the decay progresses in phases, irreversibly, up to the loss of the tooth.

The cavity pain caused by cavities can be violent and difficult to locate for a child, disabled, or an elderly person. Dental care is, however, urgent in order to avoid complications a cavity evolves in 4 stages.

Early Decay or Enamel Decay

Decay develops on contact with a dental plaque in dental furrows or the most crevice areas such as interdental spaces.

The decay begins on the tooth’s surface at the enamel level, forming a chalky or brown spot, depending on the speed of evolution, due to a phenomenon of demineralization. The decay of enamel passes unnoticed because it causes no symptoms.

At this point, it can be detected by the dental surgeon, who can perform thermal tests revealing abnormal sensitivity of the tooth.

Hence the need to consult regularly.

Once the enamel barrier has been crossed by decay, the dentine is reached and demineralizes.

The dentine containing nerve fibers, the tooth becomes sensitive to cold and heat and sweet and acidic foods. The pains due to decay are inconstant, of variable intensity, and localized to the tooth concerned.

A cavity, visible to the naked eye, forms inside the crown (visible part of the tooth).

At this stage, the vitality of the pulp is retained. The tooth sets up a restorative process of producing dentine to protect the pulp from aggression.

Pulpitis or “toothache”

In the absence of treatment for caries of the dentine, decay progresses, more or less rapidly depending on age, to inflammation of the pulp or pulpitis.

The dental pulp is a highly vascularized tissue rich in nerves enclosed in an inextensible space made up of the pulp cavity (in the center of the crown) and dental canals (located in the tooth roots).

Its inflammation causes a strong, continuous, sudden pain that spreads to the area of the face corresponding to the decayed tooth.

At this point, the dentine cannot regenerate, and the pulp tissue progresses towards its destruction.

An emergency consultation with a dental surgeon is necessary.

Pulp Necrosis of the Tooth and Dental Abscess

Dental infection progresses. The pulp tissue necroses and infection can lead to the formation of a so-called periapical abscess. This tooth abscess develops in a closed space and, therefore, cannot drain naturally.

Left untreated, the infection spreads, causing inflammation of facial tissue that swells (cellulitis) or diffuses through bone tissue, causing sinusitis. Sometimes the abscess progresses more or less quickly to fistulization (formation of a channel connecting the abscess to the mucous or on the skin, with the discharge of pus). Bacteria in your mouth can also spread from a distance through the blood and lymphatics.

In some cases, the inflammation slowly progresses to chronicity and causes the formation of a small benign tumor, the apical granuloma, located at the tip of the root of the tooth. The tooth is sensitive to percussion, and only an X-ray can show this granuloma.

Left untreated, apical granuloma progresses to the formation of an apical cyst, which can develop at the roots of several teeth and lead to significant bone loss.

Granulomas and cysts are latent foci of infection and must be treated.

Complications of Tooth Decay

The cavities are responsible for resounding pain on quality of life, sleep disorders, fatigue …Local infectious complications on the face (cellulitis, skin fistulization, sinusitis, etc.) can occur at the abscess stage.

In immunocompromised patients or patients suffering from chronic pathologies (cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, obstructive pulmonary disease, etc.) dissemination of germs in the blood from a dental abscess can be responsible for distant infectious complications (articular, cardiac, pulmonary)

An untreated decayed tooth decays completely and its extraction becomes necessary. The loss of teeth is disabling for food, but also on the aesthetic level. Its replacement then requires the fitting of a dental prosthesis or implant.

3.

Cavity Prevention

Prevention is essential to limit the risk of cavities forming in your mouth. Excellent oral hygiene insurance offers to benefit from a tooth and, more generally, of a healthy mouth.

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  1. Brush your teeth at least twice a day using fluoridated toothpaste. The toothbrush can be supplemented with dental floss, rinse aid, or other accessories to clean your mouth thoroughly.
  2. Visit your attending dentist regularly. We recommend at least one annual visit for healthy adults and two trips for children. This consultation offers the opportunity to carry out teeth scaling and check the condition of your teeth and gums.
  3. In terms of your diet, reduce your consumption of sugary products (sodas, candies, cakes, and industrial products).
  4. At the same time, try to avoid snacking between meals. Each time you consume food or drink (other than water), you increase the risk of bacterial attacks.

4.

Cavity Treatment

You should know that the part of a tooth destroyed by decay cannot be repaired naturally. The earlier the disease is treated, the less invasive the treatment and the less expensive the care.

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First Stage: The Decay Only Affects the Enamel of the Tooth.

Your dentist will seal the furrows the enamel using fluoride treatments varnish.

Second Stage: Caries Reaches the Dentin on the Surface.

The dentist begins by completely removing the infected dental tissue. It fills gaps caused by cavities in the tooth using dental amalgam (an alloy of mercury and silver), commonly called a dental filling or an adhesive composite cement. This last option is more aesthetic because its color is identical to that of the tooth.

Third Stage: The Decay Affects the Dentin In-depth.

The patient generally suffered a significant loss of tooth substance. In this case, the dentist takes the affected tooth’s impression and sends it to a specialized laboratory. The lost tooth substance is replaced by a composite resin or ceramic substitute.

Fourth Stage: The Decay Affects the Pulp of the Tooth.

Devitalization of the tooth becomes necessary. The Tissue is, therefore, eliminated. The dentist disinfects the root canals before filling them. Finally, the shape of the tooth is reconstructed by placing a dental crown and bridge.

First Stage: The Decay Only Affects the Enamel of the Tooth.

Your dentist will seal the furrows the enamel using fluoride varnishes.

Second Stage: Caries Reaches the Dentin on the Surface.

The dentist begins by completely removing the infected dental tissue. It fills gaps caused by cavities in the tooth using dental amalgam (an alloy of mercury and silver), commonly called a dental filling or an adhesive composite cement. This last option is more aesthetic because its color is identical to that of the tooth.

Third Stage: The Decay Affects the Dentin In-depth.

The patient generally suffered a significant loss of tooth substance. In this case, the dentist takes the affected tooth’s impression and sends it to a specialized laboratory. The lost tooth substance is replaced by a composite resin or ceramic substitute.

Fourth Stage: The Decay Affects the Pulp of the Tooth.

Devitalization of the tooth becomes necessary. The Tissue is, therefore, eliminated. The dentist disinfects the root canals before filling them. Finally, the shape of the tooth is reconstructed by placing a dental crown and bridge.

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