Tooth decay is deemed one of the most common health issues since it is second only to the common cold. However, this condition is surrounded by numerous myths and misconceptions that can mislead you. That’s why it is extremely important to be aware of the facts and proven information about tooth decay. Here is a list of seven debunked myths about tooth decay you shouldn’t believe in.
1. Tooth decay is caused by sugar
Even though increased sugar intake can significantly boost your chances to develop cavities, sugar doesn’t eat away your tooth enamel. But the bacteria that eat the sugar are the real cause of cavities. During their vital activity, the bacteria produce acids that soften and remove your tooth enamel. That’s why it is so important to limit the consumption of sugar.
2. Only kids can develop cavities
There is a common misconception that only kids are prone to cavities. Indeed, tooth decay is quite common in children since they can neglect proper oral hygiene and eat a lot of sugar. However, adults that have a sweet tooth and don’t clean their teeth thoroughly can also develop cavities.
3. Tooth decay is always painful
Many people think that tooth decay always causes toothache. But you should understand that the initial stages of tooth decay can develop asymptomatically or with mild symptoms like dark stains on the tooth enamel. When a cavity reaches nerve endings and blood vessels, you may experience a toothache. That’s why you need to visit a dentist for check-ups even if you don’t have any alarming signs of cavities.
4. Teeth grinding can lead to cavities
Teeth grinding is a condition in which a person clenches their teeth throughout the day or during sleep. Even though teeth grounding can lead to enamel wear, it does not necessarily result in tooth decay. If a person who suffers from teeth grinding maintains proper oral hygiene, eats healthy foods, and visits a dentist regularly, he or she may not have cavities at all.
5. Tooth sensitivity always indicates tooth decay
Tooth sensitivity is a condition in which a tooth reacts with pain to hot or cold foods and drinks, sweets, and other factors. Indeed, increased teeth sensitivity is considered one of the most common signs of tooth decay. However, there are other oral issues that can also make your teeth sensitive to temperature changes. For example, enamel erosion, receding gums, gum disease, dental abscess, and tooth fracture can manifest through toothache and tooth sensitivity.
6. Cavities can’t cause tooth loss
Some people think that cavities can be left untreated since they don’t cause serious complications. But the reality is that tooth decay is considered one of the leading causes of tooth loss. Advanced tooth decay can damage the roots of the tooth so it can fall out or you may need to extract the damaged tooth and replace it with a dental implant or bridge.
7. You can treat cavities at home
While there are certain pastes and home remedies that can help ease a toothache or seal a cavity for some time, these options can’t be considered proper treatment. To get rid of a cavity, you may need to get a dental filling or undergo a root canal procedure at the dental clinic.
The bottom line
It is essential to understand that tooth decay is a quite serious condition that can cause toothache, bad breath, increased tooth sensitivity, and tooth loss. That’s why it is essential to prevent the development of cavities and visit your dentist on a regular basis for examination and treatment.
You won't notice much sensitivity and pain until tooth decay moves throughout the enamel and into the dentin layer, the Academy of General Dentistry notes.
Dentin is composed of tiny nerve endings that become irritated and cause increased sensitivity when exposed to cold, hot, sweet, sticky, and sour foods. You might also feel pain when biting down, and quickly discover that meals are frequently getting trapped between your teeth. Decay spreads quickly through our dentin because it's quite a bit softer than enamel. Decay throughout the tooth root also spreads rapidly, since the cement coating on the root isn't near as heavy and thick as enamel.
Be cautioned that as tooth decay continues, your pain can be more frequent and extreme. It's important to keep in mind that infection develops when decay and bacteria reach the pulp of your tooth, which contains the vast majority of nerves and blood vessels. The pain of an abscessed tooth is persistent, severe and will probably keep you up at night. Other symptoms include fever, swelling of the face, and a bad taste in your mouth. You might see pus draining from a red swelling along your gum line and near the root tip. Consequences might be serious if the infection spreads into your jaw or through your entire body.
Tooth decay treatment
If your Nu Dentistry detects a little field of erosion along with your enamel before it reaches the dentin, they might suggest an approach that will help repair the area. This process could include using potent mouthwash, kinds of toothpaste, or filling materials that contain fluoride, calcium, and phosphates. Ask your dentist about using specific products for the treatment of early cavities, as well as cavity prevention. When tooth decay reaches the dentin, there's no turning back. A small cavity might be repaired with either an amalgam filling or a tooth-colored resin material. In case the tooth has lost too much of its original structure, however, your dentist might need to do a crown.
Crowns strengthen and restore form and function to your tooth, but they can end up costing quite a bit more than a simple filling. An abscessed tooth is a worst-case scenario, and the treatment options are limited. You may either choose a root canal treatment or extraction, although our Nu Dentistry will usually only pursue tooth extractions when there is no other way to save the tooth. Should you need a root canal, your dentist or endodontist in Nu Dentistry will remove the infected pulp before cleaning and sealing the pulp chamber. After receiving root canal treatment, the tooth can sometimes become more brittle and break easily. If you have lost a great deal of external structure due to tooth decay, your dentist can also recommend a crown for your tooth.
Tooth decay, also named caries or cavities, is the breakdown of a tooth due to the acid produced by bacteria. The bacteria produce this acid as a by-product when interacting with carbohydrates present in the food that we consume. The pain and severity of tooth decay depend on how far it is spread, from enamel to dentine, and then to the pulp.
The mouth is an important part of the body that usually expresses or reveals many chronic diseases, directly or indirectly in the form of dental, gum, and soft tissue diseases. Tooth decay, or cavities, are warning signs of having an underlying chronic disease that needs to be taken care of in addition to the dental treatment.
Following are the few of the known diseases that are usually linked to the tooth decay/cavities
Diabetes is a disease in which the sugar levels in the blood are elevated due to a decrease in insulin levels. It affects dental health in two ways
- The bacteria in the mouth feed on sugars and produce acid. Greater levels of sugars in the blood, the higher the supply of sugars to the mouth, and the higher the degree of bacterial activity as well. The acid produced by bacteria then dissolves the tooth layers one by one causing cavities.
- One of the symptoms of diabetes is dry mouth. Dry mouth is a condition in which there is less production of saliva in the mouth. Saliva is of great importance when it comes to cleaning and cleansing the bacteria. It washes away the bacteria and its by-products decreasing the risk of tooth decay. If the production of saliva is less as in diabetes, the acid produced by bacteria freely destructs the tooth structure.
Not only does diabetes limit the capability of the body to fight against the oral bacteria, but it also increases the chances of destroying the gums (with help of plaque build-up and calculus) surrounding the teeth and bone. Moreover, gum disease triggers the increase in blood sugar levels, which in turn worsens the severity of diabetes. It is hence a cause and effect cycle that needs to be addressed and managed properly.
2) Sjögren’s syndrome
Sjögren’s is an autoimmune syndrome that is commonly identified with symptoms such as the dry mouth and dry eyes. This syndrome affects the mucous secreting glands of eyes and mouth and results in significantly low production of tears and saliva. The decreased levels of saliva in the mouth result in less cleaning of the mouth hence greater bacterial activity, which then eventually leads to initiation of caries, which turns into tooth decay if not taken care of.
3) Bulimia and Anorexia
Bulimia and anorexia are severe forms of eating disorders. These eating disorders are connected to psychological disorders where individuals fear being fat or overweight. Bulimic and anorexic individuals either eat less, binge or purge the food, mainly unhealthy food. Eating less food means less intake of nutrients that are essential to keep the body healthy and strong. This less intake of nutrients causes low immunity and hence less capability to fight against oral bacteria that cause cavities. Also, during the process of binging and purging, the acids from the stomach flow into the mouth affecting the teeth. The acid wears away the teeth surface making them more susceptible to tooth decay over a while.
Although there is no direct relationship between cancer and tooth decay, individuals going through radiation are at greater risk of getting cavities known as radiation caries. One of the side effects of radiation is dry mouth (transient xerostomia). The radiation affects the salivary glands, due to which the mouth is unable to produce a sufficient amount of saliva necessary for cleansing effectively and lowering the mouth PH that eventually leads to radiation caries. Therefore, it is necessary to consult the dental professional and the concerned oncologist before going through the phase of radiotherapy. The dental professional will evaluate the preexisting condition of the mouth and teeth and suggest suitable actions accordingly.
In addition to all the above-mentioned diseases, dental home care plays a crucial role in the development of tooth decay. The dental plaque formed on the gingival margins continues to multiply and grow beneath the gums (gingival pockets) and onto the tooth surface. This dental plaque contains various types of bacteria and food particles that mineralized to form tartar/calculus. This plaque and tartar destructs the tooth structure and gums to form cavities and gum diseases respectively. The good news is, regular oral hygiene regimens decrease the amount of plaque and tartar build-up. Brushing twice a day and flossing following a proper technique significantly reduces plaque and tartar load. Besides, regular dental checkups should be followed to treat tooth decay at its earliest stages.
It is best to provide a thorough and inclusive medical and dental history to the dental professionals to rule out the cause of tooth decay and then treat it subsequently.
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