Most people around the world experience dental caries. It is a common chronic disease that is more prevalent in children and adults over the age of 50. Dental caries (tooth decay/rotten teeth) is a bacterial infection that causes irreversible damage to teeth.
The human mouth is filled with bacteria, which combines with saliva and food particles to form plaque. Good oral hygiene habits, such as regular brushing and flossing, remove the plaque. However, if you fail to maintain good oral habits, the bacteria in plaque transforms the food particles into acid that allows the bacteria to grow and break down the tooth enamel.
Although tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, plaque will soften the enamel by removing minerals from the tooth. This then causes small cavities to develop on the tooth surface. Once the cavities are formed, the bacteria can easily reach the dentine (the bone-like material underneath the enamel), speeding up the process of decay. At this point, the individual will experience a sharp toothache, but if left untreated the disease can lead to tooth loss. In severe cases, tooth decay can lead to infections that spread to the mouth, neck, sinuses and other areas of the body, which may become life threatening, so urgent treatment is required.
There are a number of factors that could put you at risk of tooth decay. These factors are:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Smoking and alcohol
- Dry mouth
Treatment for tooth decay can either be done with dental fillings or a tooth extraction, depending on the severity of the damage. For small and shallow cavities, dental fillings are usually required, while an extraction is necessary when a tooth is destroyed beyond restoration.
Many people are unaware that they have cavities, as this can only be detected by a dentist. So, contact us to schedule an appointment with a dentist in Cape Town who can help prevent or treat tooth decay.
Grow Youthful “What is Tooth Decay?”
NHS “Causes of Tooth Decay”
Thera Breath “Tooth decay”