What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay is an infectious disease of the tooth that damages the enamel and then the dentin, forming a cavity. It is the most common oral problem in the world.
Once its process has begun, it never heals spontaneously. It is therefore essential to consult a dentist. For a result that is not only discreet but also aesthetic, opt for a restoration using products that allow you to have a shade close to that of your natural tooth.
When the decay is very extensive, for a long-lasting result, you should opt for a reconstruction using a ceramic inlay/onlay.
The four stages of tooth decay
- Stage 1: Destruction of the enamel: at this stage, the decay is completely painless;
- Stage 2: Dentin is attacked: the tooth is sensitive to cold, heat, sugar and acid;
- Stage 3: Attack of the pulp (the internal part of the tooth): violent pains can appear, spontaneous or provoked by the heat and the cold… It is the toothache!
- Stage 4: Formation of a dental abscess: the bacterial proliferation reaches the tissues around the tooth (bone, ligament, gum). Even though the initial pain has disappeared, in the long term, an abscess will form and can become painful overnight.
How to treat a cavity?
Cavities that have not had time to reach the pulp of the tooth (stage 1 and 2) are easily treated and only require a simple filling. Once cleaned, the cavity is filled with an amalgam or a composite. This way, the pulp of the tooth is preserved and the tooth is alive.
For more advanced decay (stage 3 or 4), the tooth canal will need to be treated and cleaned. If the decayed tooth is very damaged, a root canal and tooth extraction may be necessary. A dental prosthesis will be placed.
Pain caused by tooth decay can be relieved with paracetamol or ibuprofen. In the case of an abscess, antibiotic treatment will be necessary.
Why do I have cavities?
There are four main factors that can cause cavities:
Dental plaque: a more or less whitish substance made up of saliva, food deposits and bacteria, it forms on the surface of the teeth after each food intake and eats away at the enamel ;
Poor oral hygiene : irregular or incorrect brushing is the royal road for any bacterial proliferation, with, at the key, an increased carious risk. It is thanks to an effective brushing of teeth that one removes the dental plaque;
Heredity: it seems that there is a genetic predisposition to cavities within certain families;
A lack of saliva;
Fluoride deficiency (fluoride protects effectively against cavities);
An unbalanced diet: (Excessive consumption of coffee and/or alcohol and sugar. The consumption of sugars favors the development of cavities, as does snacking. The consumption of fruit juices, syrups and other soft drinks should also be limited: in addition to being sweet, they acidify the oral environment, which favors the appearance of cavities.
Diet, medication or drug use;
Note: cavities do not only affect children, they also affect adults.
Why is it important to treat a decayed baby tooth?
A decayed baby tooth may be temporary, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be treated! In fact, when a baby tooth is too decayed, it must be extracted. This premature extraction can hinder the growth and development of permanent teeth.
In addition, cavities develop more quickly in children. Treating a cavity in a baby tooth will prevent the problem from spreading to other teeth through bacterial contamination.
Treating cavities in pregnant women
If a cavity appears during pregnancy, don’t panic! Dental care is not contraindicated during this period (even if it is limited to minor emergencies such as cavities). Caution: in pregnant women, hormonal changes and eating habits can favor certain dental pathologies, including cavities. It is therefore recommended that the mother-to-be consult her dentist at the beginning of her pregnancy and maintain good oral hygiene.