Did you know that Australians above the age of fifteen have an average of 12.8 teeth that are either missing, decayed, or filled?
That’s not all. Reports show that the number of teeth affected by dental caries or cavities continues to increase with a person’s age.
So, what exactly can you do if you or someone you know has dental caries?
This article provides in-depth information on the various causes, symptoms, and treatment options available for people with dental caries.
Let’s start at the beginning!
What Are Dental Caries?
When the harder surfaces of your teeth are damaged, they have the potential to develop into tiny holes. These holes or openings are dental caries. Sometimes they are also referred to as dental cavities or tooth decay.
The longer you leave the dental caries untreated, the wider the holes become. Eventually, the cavities begin to expand towards the deeper layers of your teeth.
The Signs and Symptoms of Dental Caries
Not sure if you have dental caries, but suspect that you might? Here are a few signs that could indicate that you do.
Are you experiencing pain that just won’t go away? Do you feel a sharp pain in your teeth while eating your food?
If you cannot attribute this pain to any other cause, it is likely a symptom of dental caries within your tooth or teeth.
Holes or Openings
One of the most observable symptoms of dental cavities is tiny holes in your teeth. If you notice any openings within the surface of your teeth, see a dentist immediately for treatment.
Sudden tooth sensitivity can be observed while drinking hot or cold beverages or other food items. If you find that your teeth have developed a sudden sensitivity in the form of sharp pains, discomfort, or a sensation of pressure within your teeth, it could indicate dental caries.
Staining of the Teeth
Dental caries can also cause staining on the surface of your teeth. Keep an eye out for brown, black, or white discoloration around specific spots on your teeth.
What Causes Dental Cavities?
When we consume food, it is broken down by the bacteria in our mouths. The acid secreted by the bacteria can then go on to break down the hard surfaces of our teeth – the enamel.
So, in theory, anyone can get dental caries. However, there are certain factors that could make it more likely for you to have them.
Certain foods like dairy products, honey, sugary treats, desserts, and candy cling to your teeth longer than others. Frequently eating these foods without brushing afterwards can increase your risk of developing dental caries.
Additionally, consumption of sodas or similar drinks can also increase the amount of acid your teeth are exposed to, thereby exacerbating the issue.
Improper or Lack of Brushing
Brushing helps eliminate the creation of acid and prevents the formation of plaque. When you do not brush your teeth frequently enough, or do not brush them as thoroughly as you need to, you put yourself at risk for developing cavities.
However, over-brushing can also lead to tooth decay. In fact, 97 percent of all Australian adults over the age of fifteen are reported to overbrush their teeth.
To prevent the formation of caries it is recommended that you floss, rinse, and brush your teeth as advised by your dentist.
Eating disorders like bulimia that involve repetitive purging, can pose a serious risk for tooth erosion. Through the process of vomiting, your teeth are exposed to stomach acid which, in turn, triggers tooth decay.
If you or someone you know is living with an eating disorder, it is important to seek intervention from a qualified medical professional immediately.
Dryness of Mouth
Saliva helps wash out the tooth that gets stuck on or in-between your teeth. Additionally, it also helps to reduce the acidity produced by the bacteria in your mouth.
An excessively dry mouth can, therefore, become the ideal environment for dental caries to develop.
When you experience heartburn, your mouth (and teeth) are exposed to stomach acid. The more this happens, the higher your chances are for tooth decay and dental cavities.
Getting the Right Treatment
If this is something that you are dealing with, it is important that you seek out a dentist immediately. Based on your circumstances, and at what stage your dental caries are, your dentist will recommend one of the following possible treatments.
Filings: The decayed part of the tooth is drilled out and refilled.
Dental Crowns: The tooth is fitted with a crown covering.
Root Canal: Removal of the affected dead nerves.
Tooth Extraction: Complete removal of the tooth when it is beyond repair.
Do remember that dental caries begins at the outer surface of your teeth. At this stage, a simple tooth filling will be enough. As this progresses inward, you may require a dental crown, followed by a root canal and in the most severe cases, a tooth extraction.
Oral Health Matters
While there are a few measures you can take to prevent dental caries, they are not always avoidable. The best you can do is to make an appointment with a dentist as soon as you begin to notice symptoms.
At Coogee Plaza Dental, we believe in putting your oral health and hygiene first. Our dental experts have both, the knowledge and the experience to give you the treatment you deserve. Get in touch to book an appointment with a qualified dentist near you, today!