Tooth decay is the damage to the tooth enamel, the hard outer covering of the tooth. Plaque is a sticky type of bacteria that continuously gets deposited and multiplies on the teeth. When food containing simple sugars is taken, the bacteria produce acids that attack the tooth enamel. The sticky bacteria retains the acids on the teeth and this results in the breakdown of the hard enamel. Cavities are thus formed on the tooth.
Enamel is the hardest tissue among all tissues in our body. It is a translucent layer of calcified tissue that forms the crown of the tooth. It does not have any blood or nerve supply within it. Almost 95% of enamel is made of calcium and phosphate ions that bind with hydrogen, oxygen and carbon to form hydroxypatite crystals, which makes it so strong.
Cavities are the world’s most common problem and if left untreated, they expand in size and reach the deeper layers of the teeth. This then progresses to infection, toothache and tooth loss.
Symptoms of tooth decay:
Depending on the severity of the condition and the affected tooth, the symptoms can vary. Initial stages do not show up any symptoms. When the decay reaches the deeper layers, it can cause pain and other symptoms.
Stages of tooth decay:
Dental plaque is a colorless, sticky film that covers the surface of our teeth, comprising of food particles, saliva and bacteria. Plaque then builds up to form a thicker layer called tartar. This tartar forms a protective layer over the bacteria, making it more difficult to be removed.
The five stages of tooth decay are:
Treatment of tooth decay depends primarily on the stage of the decay. The dentist examines the tooth and prescribes antibiotics to eliminate the infection. Treatments are given to protect the teeth from further damage. Removal of the tooth and desensitizing the nerves are also done if required.