Remember what your mum used to say… “If you don’t brush your teeth, your teeth will rot!” There’s a reason why she said that…and you should’ve listened to her. Tooth decay is not only embarrassing, but after a point, it becomes terribly painful. Your teeth are connected to the nerve centers in your mouth, so when the germs reach right down to these nerve centers, there’s more pain than anyone should have to suffer.

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Photo Credit:bing.com

Tooth decay is a broad term used to describe the effects of dental bacteria on your teeth. So getting down to the specifics…

What is tooth decay and what happens when you have tooth decay?

When you eat something, most often you have residual food particles that remain stuck between your teeth and on your gums. This leads on to bacterial growth in the mouth and over time, causes tooth decay. Post meal, a thin film of sticky substance coats the teeth and gums, this is known as plaque. The plaque along with the bacteria that ‘attack’ your teeth, eat into the enamel. The bacteria feed on the sugary substance in the food and simultaneously generate acid that erodes the enamel.

This bacterial ‘war’ goes on for about 20 minutes after your meal…but the real dental decay goes on for years before you start suffering from the effects of dental caries.

So tooth decay goes on in stages:

 

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Photo Credit:bing.com
Stage 1.
This is when the decay is slight and is yet to pierce the enamel. A little application of fluoride is enough to rectify this sort of decay.

 

Stage 2.
In the second stage, the tooth enamel has already been breached and the formation of cavity has already started. Slight filling of the tooth at the dentist’s will cure cavity.

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Photo Credit:bing.com

 

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Photo Credit:bing.com
Stage 3.In the final stage, the tooth pulp containing the nerves and blood vessels dies and you are left with a tooth abscess. This is when the tooth is beyond repair.

The different stages of tooth decay do not happen overnight, there are multiple symptoms to let you know that your decaying tooth is worsening.

So what are the symptoms that will let you know that you’re having decaying teeth?

The signs usually start showing up after you already have a cavity.

  • Tooth ache that can be persistent or sporadic
  • Bad breath
  • Foul taste in the mouth
  • Spots on your teeth – white, gray, brown and black spots
  • Loose fillings
  • A broken tooth or one that is sensitive to the least amount of pressure

The problems might become worse while and after you:

  • Drink or eat too warm or cold foods
  • Eat sweets
  • Chew your food
  • Breathe in cold air
  • Brush your teeth

If you already have an abscess, you might suffer from:

  • Fever
  • Swollen glands
  • Swollen jaw
  • Throbbing pain
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Photo Credit:bing.com

What increases the risks of tooth decay?

If you’re going to fight tooth decay, you need to know what increases the risk and eliminate them one by one.

  • Carelessness towards dental care.
  • Allowing the plaque to remain – it is visible as a thin yellow film on your teeth – which leads on to tartar if not checked in time.
  • Eating foods high in sugar and carbs, and by not eating a balanced diet.
  • Lacking fluoride – it helps fight tooth problems. Your toothpaste should have fluoride.
  • Smoking excessively, and drinking alcohol.
  • Dry mouth syndrome – when your mouth doesn’t secrete enough saliva to keep the bacteria from sticking to your teeth and wreaking havoc.
  • Age – as you grow old, along with your immunity, your dental health also declines.
  • Respiratory conditions that need you to breathe through your mouth.
  • Diabetes also affects your immunity and your dental health.
  • Medicines that contain sugar.

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Photo Credit:bing.com
However, the fact is, tooth decay can affect a person at any age; even children suffer from tooth decay if there is lack of proper dental care. Fortunately, there are various methods of curing dental decay the first being maintaining good oral care.

So arm yourself with a toothbrush and declare war on tooth decay!

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