Articles on tooth decay

Tips to Prevent Tooth Decay

Dr. Kamal Kiswani, Dentist
Brushing and flossing ensures good oral health. Cavities are formed when the bacterial infection erodes the surface of the tooth. Plaque is a sticky film that builds up over a period of time and can only be removed through professional cleaning. If not removed, plaque erodes the minerals on the surface of the teeth resulting in smaller pits that grow into larger ones called “Cavities”. An imbalance in the ratio of calcium and phosphorous in the blood also causes tooth decay and gum diseases.Who are at Risk?People who eat raw foods, sticky foods such as sweets, dried fruits, cakes and cookies are prone to bacterial infection and cavities. People who keep munching throughout the day or drink acidic beverages or people with eating disorders, heartburn or dry mouth are at a higher risk of having cavities.How to prevent Cavities?Apart from the regular brushing and flossing a few careful steps will help prevent cavities. These are:Sugar: Refined sugar is the main cause of cavities and it is best to avoid it.Tea: Green/Black tea helps reduce the build-up of plaque and is thus helpful in preventing cavities.Tooth Healthy Food: A fibre rich diet comprising apple, nuts and cheese help in breaking the plaque and increase saliva production in the mouth. We should include Vitamins A, D, E and K along with calcium, magnesium and phosphorous in our diet. Licorice twists has antibacterial properties that are good for the teeth.Chewing Sugar-free gum: It helps in the production of saliva and also cleanses any food debris from the mouth.Xylitol: It is a natural sweetener that helps in checking bacterial growth. Xylitol can be added to food items/toothpaste/chewing gum.Sip with a Straw: Carbonated drinks have acidic properties that erode the tooth surface. Drinking them with a straw reduces their contact with the tooth surface.Oil Pulling: The age old method of swishing mouth with oil (sesame or sunflower oil) holds good even today. It is one of the best methods of flushing out all the toxins from the mouth. Rinsing mouth with tea tree oil diluted in water also helps in reducing bacterial growth.Water: Drinking water helps clean the mouth of the bacteria and also helps in the production of saliva.Remedies for CavitiesA Dentist will fill the cavity or suggest a Root Canal Treatment or prescribe tooth extraction depending on how bad the cavity is. According to Dev’s Oral Care, pioneers in providing dental treatment in Pune, there are some natural remedies for treating cavities. These are:Oil of Oregano: Oil of Oregano has antimicrobial properties. Brushing with this oil daily helps fight tooth decay.Xylitol: Xylitol checks bacterial growth and prevents germs from sticking on to the gums and teeth. Using Xylitol toothpaste, rinse and spray several times a day stops bacterial growthClove: Clove or clove oil can be used on the affected tooth to treat toothache.Sage: A mouthwash made by boiling sage in water and using it after cooling can be used to cure tooth decay.Neem: Neem sticks, leaves and seeds have antibacterial properties that help in fighting tooth decay.

A Parent's Guide to Prevent Tooth Decay in Their Toddler

Dr. Gayatri Moghe, Dentist
An infant's first teeth start appearing at 6 months of age. This time on, they are exposed to a variety of processed foods.If not cleaned well, the processed flour (maida) sticks to the teeth and becomes a fertile ground for oral bacteria to multiply and release substances which cause decay..In a very young child below the age of reason,it is prudent to treat such decay, called as 'early childhood caries' under general anaesthesia, in a Pediatric hospital where a doctor is always available.To prevent infant tooth decay, clean your child's mouth and massage gums using a soft silicone finger brush. It is available in all baby stores. In an older child, make brushing teeth a game that the child enjoys. Do not use toothpaste till a child learns to spit. Just a small smear on a kiddy brush works perfectly once they are able to rinse and spit.Use toothpastes with 500 ppm fluoride.Delay the introduction of sugar as far as you can.Avoid using a bottle for milk. Do not put a child to sleep with a bottle of milk. Its the prime reason for tooth decay.By one year of age, bottles should be discontinued.Avoid juices that are canned. Fresh fruits work the best.Let your child chew on carrots, apples, cucumbers. The detergent action helps clean the teeth. They are healthy, filling and fun too.Any home made food with natural ingredients will introduce the baby to a world of different tastes.Avoid giving anything that comes out of a box, as a rule of thumb. Carbonated drinks, sparkling water etc. are a strict no-no. They are acidic and damage the teeth.A dental visit every 6 months will work wonders for your child's pearly whites.As a general rule, parents should brush the child's teeth till the child learns to tie his/her shoelaces. That shows that their motor movements are developed well enough to be able to brush well.Good general and oral health begins at home. So why not introduce your child to good habits early on, to ensure a lifetime of good dental health?

What Is Tooth Decay & How It Could Be Prevented?

Dr. Gaurav Gupta, Dentist
Dental cavities are an infection caused by a combination of carbohydrate-containing foods and bacteria that live in our mouths. The bacteria are contained in a film that continuously forms on and around our teeth. We call this film plaque. Although there are many different types of bacteria in our mouths, only a few are associated with cavities. Some of the most common bacteria responsible for them include Streptococcus mutans, Lactobacillus casei and acidophilus, and Actinomyces naeslundii. When these bacteria find carbohydrates, they eat them and produce acid. The exposure to acid causes the pH on the tooth surface to drop. Before eating, the pH in the mouth is about 6.2 to 7.0, slightly more acidic than water. As "sugary foods" and other carbohydrates are eaten, the pH drops. At a pH of 5.2 to 5.5 or below, the acid begins to dissolve the hard enamel that forms the outer coating of our teeth. As the cavity progresses, it invades the softer dentin directly beneath the enamel, and encroaches on the nerve and blood supply of the tooth contained within the pulp.Cavities attack the teeth in three ways:Pit & FissureSmooth surfaceRoot surface The first is through the pits and fissures, which are grooves that are visible on the top biting surfaces of the back teeth (molars and premolars). The pits and fissures are thin areas of enamel that contain recesses that can trap food and plaque to form a cavity. The cavity starts from a small point of attack, and spreads widely to invade the underlying dentin. Decays happen at the the pits and fissures and spread to the biting surface of the teeth. The second route of acid attack is from a smooth surface, which is between, or on the front or back of teeth. In a smooth-surface cavity, the acid must travel through the entire thickness of the enamel. The area of attack is generally wide, and comes to a point or converges as it enters the deeper layers of the tooth. Smooth surface decay started at the in-between of teeth. The third is the attack started at the root surface of the tooth after it was exposed to the oral cavity. The root is usually exposed due gum recession as a result of periodontitis (gum disease) Decay on the root surface of the teeth. How Will I Know if I Have a Cavity? The large majority of cavities are completely painless. This is because the outer enamel has no nerves. It is only when the cavity enters the underlying dentin that the cavity may begin to feel sensitive. The most common cavity symptoms are an increased sensation to cold, sweet foods or beverages. A cavity is often responsible for a broken tooth. The cavity weakens the tooth, especially when it forms under a tooth filling or a tooth cusp, and can easily cause a fracture when biting down. Patients are sometimes taken off guard when they learn that they have a few cavities but they don't have any symptoms. It is far better to treat a small cavity than to wait until they have symptoms; such as pain. By the time there are symptoms, the cavity may have spread to infect the dental pulp, necessitating a root canal procedure or a tooth extraction to eliminate the infection. Always remember that most dental problems are insidious -- that is, they sneak up on you. Regular dental exams, at least twice a year, will greatly reduce the likelihood that a dental cavity will go undetected and spread, causing toothache pain and infecting the dental pulp. The decay has spread into the dental pulp causing pain. How Do Dentists Detect Cavities? Cavities are detected a number of ways. The most common are clinical (hands-on) and radiographic (X-ray) examinations. During a clinical exam, the dentist uses a handheld instrument called an explorer to probe the tooth surface for cavities. If the explorer "catches," it means the instrument has found a weak, acid damaged part of the tooth -- a dental cavity. Dentists can also use a visual examination to detect cavities. Teeth that are discolored (usually brown or black), can sometimes indicate a dental cavity. Regular dental examination is important to prevent tooth decay Bite-wing radiograph is good to detect interproximal (in-between) caries Dental X-rays, especially check-up or bitewing X-rays, are very useful in finding cavities that are wedged between teeth, or under the gum line. These "hidden" cavities are difficult or impossible to detect visually or with the explorer. In some cases, none of these methods are adequate, and a dentist must use a special disclosing solution to diagnose a suspicious area on a tooth. Are Some People at More Risk for Developing Cavities? People who have reduced saliva flow due to diseases such a Sjogren Syndrome; dysfunction of their salivary glands; have undergone cancer chemotherapy or radiation; and who smoke are more likely to develop cavities. Saliva is important in fighting cavities because it can rinse away plaque and food debris, and help neutralize acid. People who have limited manual dexterity and have difficulty removing plaque from their teeth may also have a higher risk of forming cavities. Some people have naturally lower oral pH, which makes them more likely to have cavities.How Can I Prevent Cavities? The easiest way for tooth decay prevention is by brushing your teeth and removing plaque at least three times a day, especially after eating and before bed. Flossing at least once a day is important to remove plaque between your teeth. You should brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and angle the bristles about 45 degrees toward the gum line. Brush for about the length of one song on the radio (three minutes). It's a good idea to ask your dentist or hygienist to help you with proper brushing methods. Blushing and Flossing teeth are to do it daily to stop caries. Reducing the amount and frequency of eating sugary foods can reduce the risk of forming cavities. If you are going to drink a can of sweetened soda, for instance, it is better to drink it in one sitting, than sip it throughout the day. Better yet, drink it through a straw in one sitting, to bypass the teeth altogether. Getting to the dentist at least twice a year is critical for examinations and professional dental cleanings. Reduce high sugar food can reduce dental cavity significantly. To reduce the incidence of cavities, use toothpaste and mouthwash that contains fluoride. Fluoride is a compound that is added to most tap water supplies, toothpastes, and mouth rinses to reduce cavities. Fluoride becomes incorporated into our teeth as they develop and makes them more resistant to decay. After our teeth are formed, fluoride can reverse the progress of early cavities, and sometimes prevent the need for corrective dental treatments. Mouthwash with fluoride. The recent drop in the number of cavities is largely due to the addition of fluoride to our drinking water. Mass water fluoridation is the most cost-effective measure available to reduce the incidence of tooth decay. The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that the acceptable tap water concentration for fluoride is 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million. A dental procedure called sealants can also help reduce cavities on the top and sides of back teeth (occlusal, buccal and lingual surfaces). A sealant is a white resin material that blankets the tooth, protecting the vulnerable pits and fissures of the tooth. Sealants are routinely placed on children's teeth to prevent cavities on their newly developing molars. The use of sealants to prevent cavities is also a cost-effective way to reduce the incidence of cavities on adults as well. Sealants are generally not used on teeth that already have fillings.  People who have a dry mouth are at risk for developing cavities, and can have their dentist prescribe artificial saliva and mouth moisturizers, as well as recommend chewing sugarless gum to stimulate saliva production. Finally, an antiseptic mouthwash containing chlorhexidine gluconate such as Orahex, Orahex Plus, Clohex etc can also be useful in killing bacteria associated with dental caries.

3 Simple Ways to Protect Your Children From Tooth Decay

Dr. Vanathi K, Dentist
3 Simple ways to protect your children from tooth decay:Proper oral hygienePit and Fissure sealantsFluoridation1. PROPER ORAL HYGIENE:To help your children protect their teeth and gums teach them to follow these simple steps:Brush twice a day with a pea-size dab of fluoride toothpaste and  soft bristled tooth brush.Eat a well balanced diet with less of sugar content and more of vitamins and minerals.Avoid frequent snacking between meals.Flossing can be done for your children from 5 years of age.It removes the food particles between the teeth.Regular dental visit 6 months once.2. PIT AND FISSURE SEALANTS:Dental sealants are a type of special plastic coating that acts as a barrier protecting cavity prone areas.They are applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth to cover deep pits and grooves.Sealing a tooth is PAINLESS,FAST AND EASY procedure.Sealants are added protection against tooth decay.3. FLUORIDATION:Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in all water sources.Fluoride is effective in preventing and reversing early signs of dental caries.Acid is formed when bacteria in plaque breakdown sugar and carbohydrates from diet. Repeated acid attack breakdown the tooth and causes cavities.Fluoride acts to repair and remineralize areas in which acid attack already begun and makes the teeth resistant to decay.Topical fluorides are professionally applied by dentist are more concentrated and available in the form of gel,foam and rinse.These topical fluorides  acts effectively on the teeth and prevents them from decay.These are few simple steps which ensures cavity free teeth for your kids.

Everything About Sweets and Tooth Decay

Dr. Swasti Jain, Dentist
You've probably heard it all your life: Eating sweets will rot your teeth. But while a diet high in sugar certainly promotes the formation of cavities (as well as other medical problems, such as obesity), sugar itself isn't the real culprit behind tooth decay.Dental cavities — also known as caries, the Latin word for "decay" — are formed when bacteria living in the mouth digest carbohydrate debris left on the teeth after you eat. Such debris might include the refined sugars found in cookies, candy and other treats, but can also come from healthy foods like whole grains, vegetables and fruits.When digesting these carbohydrates, bacteria in your mouth produce an acid that combines with saliva to form that nasty stuff your dentist warned you about: plaque.It's plaque — not sugar — that leads to tooth decay. Plaque starts building up after every meal, and if it isn't brushed away frequently, it can erode the hard, outer enamel of a tooth, resulting in tiny holes in the tooth's surface. These holes mark the first stage of cavity formation.And those tiny holes can do a lot of damage if left untreated. Eventually, the acid and bacteria in plaque can eat through the other layers of your teeth, as well — from the softer layer of teeth under the enamel, known as dentin, to the third layer (the pulp), which contains your teeth's blood vessels and nerves. Cavities affecting the pulp of a tooth, as well as the bone supporting tooth, can cause severe toothaches, sensitivity, pain when eating and abscesses in the mouth.Ultimately, sugar is just one of many carbs that can land you in the dentist's chair, but that doesn't mean you should trade in your apples for candy corn just yet. The way you consume food is just as important as the kinds of food you eat. For example, chugging a can of soda actually does less damage to your teeth than sipping on a soda throughout the day, because the acid created by mouth bacteria sticks around for 30 minutes after you eat or drink. So every time you munch another chip or take a sip of soda, you restart the plaque-production clock and increase your risk of developing cavities.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay - a Silent Enemy!

Dr. Rashmi Punhani, Dentist
Tooth decay in infants and very young children is often referred to as "Baby bottle tooth decay". Baby bottle tooth decay happens when sweetened liquids or those with natural sugars (like milk, formula, and fruit juice) cling to an infant's teeth for a long time. Bacteria in the mouth thrive on this sugar and make acids that attack the teeth.At risk are children whose pacifiers are frequently dipped in sugar or syrup. Giving an infant a sugary drink at nap time or nighttime is particularly harmful because the flow of saliva decreases during sleep.Although baby bottle tooth decay typically happens in the upper front teeth, other teeth may also be affected.Parents think baby teeth are temporary, and therefore, not important? THINK AGAIN! Baby teeth are necessary for chewing, speaking, and smiling. They also serve as "placeholders" for the adult teeth. If baby bottle tooth decay is left untreated, pain and infection can result. Severely decayed teeth may need to be removed followed by placement of space maintainers.If teeth are infected or lost too early due to baby bottle tooth decay, your child may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth, and damaged adult teeth. In addition, the chances that adult teeth will end up being crooked are greatly increased.A few simple steps can help stave off baby bottle tooth decay. They include implementing good oral hygiene at an early age. Here's how:Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing sugary milk, if hungry, make sure you give a mouth full of water after that (which helps flushing out all the sugary milk from the teeth surfaces)Never give your child a pacifier dipped in anything sweetReduce the sugar in your child's diet, especially between mealsWipe the baby's gums with a clean gauze pad or washcloth after each feedingBegin brushing your child's teeth, without toothpaste, when his or her first tooth comes in. If you choose to use toothpaste, use a fluoride-free oneClean and massage gums in areas without teethMake sure your child is getting enough fluoride (after 6 years of age), which helps lessen cavities. If your local water supply does not contain fluoride, ask your dentist or doctor if you need to use a supplementSchedule regular dental visits by your "child's first birthday". Dentists also offer special sealant coatings, which can help prevent tooth decay in childrenIt's never too late to break bad habits. If your child drinks sweetened liquids from the bottle and/or sleeps with a bottle, break the habit now and cut the risk of baby bottle tooth decay by:Gradually diluting the bottle contents with water over 2 to 3 weeks.Once that period is over, fill the bottle only with water.

Tooth Decay & Oral Health: Fact Sheets

Dr. D. V. Gowda, Dentist
So much has been written about prevention and cure of tooth decay and gum disease. We think it’s time we all get down to the facts. What are the effects of poor oral hygiene and inadequate dental care to people all around the world?According to the World Health Organization:Worldwide, 60–90% of school children and nearly 100% of adults have dental cavities.Severe gum disease, which may result in tooth loss, is found in 15–20% of adults aged between 35-44 years old.Globally, about 30% of people aged 65–74 have no natural teeth.The incidence of oral cancer ranges from one to 10 cases per 100 000 people in most countries.Tobacco and alcohol are the major risk factors for oral cancer.Almost half (40–50%) of people who are HIV-positive have oral fungal, bacterial or viral infections.Across the world, 16-40% of children in the age range 6 to12 years old are affected by dental trauma due to unsafe playgrounds, unsafe schools, road accidents, or violence.A severe gingival disease called Noma affects young children living in extreme poverty primarily in Africa & Asia. This gangrenous lesion is followed by necrosis (premature death of cells in living tissue) of the lips and chin. Left untreated, about 90% of these children die.Tooth decay requires immediate treatment. The longer a cavity remains untreated, it only grows larger and more costly to repair.The good news is that tooth decay is largely preventable. Observing proper oral care, maintaining a healthy diet and visiting your dentist at least two times a year are your best chances in fighting cavities and other gum diseases.Tooth decay requires immediate treatment. The longer a cavity remains untreated, it only grows larger and more costly to repair.

Importance of Brushing With Tooth Paste

Dr. Pankaj Rao, Dentist
Brushing with toothpaste is important for several reasons. First and foremost, a toothpaste and a correct brushing action work to remove plaque, a sticky, harmful film of bacteria that grows on your teeth that cause cavities, gum disease, and eventual tooth loss if not controlled. Second, toothpaste contains fluoride, which makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to decay and promotes remineralization, which aids in repairing early decay before the damage can even be seen. Third, special ingredients in toothpaste help to clean and polish the teeth and remove stains over time. Fourth, toothpaste help freshen breath and leave your mouth with a clean feeling.What type of toothpaste should I use? As long as your toothpaste contains fluoride, the brand you buy really does not matter, neither does whether or not it is in the paste, gel or even powder form or containing a certain flavor. All fluoride toothpaste work effectively to fight plaque and cavities and clean and polish tooth enamel. Your toothpaste brand should bear the ADA (American Dental Association) seal of approval on the container, which means that adequate evidence of safety and efficacy have been demonstrated in controlled, clinical trials.If your teeth are hypersensitive to hot or cold, consider trying a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. These "desensitizing" toothpaste, which contains strontium chloride or potassium nitrate, protect exposed dentin by blocking the tubes in the teeth that are connected to nerves. Desensitizing pastes must be used for at least one month before any therapeutic effects are felt.Toothpaste containing baking soda and/or hydrogen peroxide (which are both good cleansing agents) give the teeth and mouth a clean, fresh, pleasant feeling that can offer an incentive to brush more, but fluoride is the true active ingredient at work protecting your teeth. Some prefer a tartar-control toothpaste containing pyrophosphates to prevent the build-up of soft calculus (tartar) deposits on their teeth. New pastes offer advanced whitening formulas aimed at safely removing stains to make teeth brighter and shinier, although they can't nearly match the effectiveness of a professional bleaching formula administered or prescribed by a dentist.How much should I use?Contrary to what toothpaste commercials show, the amount of paste or gel needed on your brush for effective cleaning does not have to be a heaping amount. Simply squeeze a pea-sized dab of paste on the top half of your brush. If you brush correctly, holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush inside, outside and between your teeth, the paste should foam enough to cover all of your teeth. Children under age 6, however, should be given a very small, baby pea-sized dab of toothpaste on their brush. Is brushing with toothpaste enough to fight cavities and gum disease?No. Although brushing thoroughly after each meal helps, flossing your teeth every day to remove plaque and food particles between teeth and at the gumline is just as important. Studies show that plaque will regrow on teeth that are completely clean within three to four hours of brushing.