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What causes our tooth to decay?

Q: The science behind what causes our tooth decay?

A:Dental caries and pain related to it whether due to a “cavity” or “nerve problem” is every person’s nightmare.

Tooth decay is one of the greatest causes of discomfort, unwarranted expense plus loss of man-hours and is an eminently preventable condition.

What happens?
Acid attack on teeth causes them enamel –the hardest structure in the body to dissolve over a period of time... This is followed by dentinal dissolution exposing the nerve/s in the tooth with and sometimes, without associated pain necessitating/ leading to root canal treatment.

What are the symptoms?
1. Sensitivity to hot/cold
2. Pain which comes and goes
3. Severe throbbing that can keep you awake at night
4. Swelling in and around the jaws

Why does it happen?
1. Very worn out teeth or Mutilated dentition due to oral habits like tobacco chewing or bruxism and nightgrinding.
2. fractured/broken teeth
3. Trauma may cause a tooth to fracture and/or the nerve to die necessitating a root canal job.
4. Decay due to poor dietary factors [high refined carbohydrate/ sugary food intake.
5. Neglected/inadequate or improper brushing.
6. Health disorders make one prone too: diabetes, dry mouth, multiple medications.
7. When decay reaches the nerve.

What Do I do and how do I prevent it?
1. Regular Dental checkups and proactive early intervention.
2. Early preventive care such as fillings (amalgam/composite/monomers as deemed essential by your dentist or Pedodontist).
3. Renewal of old fillings.
4. Proper brushing technique and frequency (twice a day); watching one’s diet (reduction of highly acidogenic foods, cola beverages, sugary foods).
5. Use of an appropriate toothpaste (preferably fluoridated unless otherwise contraindicated).
6. Topical fluoride application and mouth washes only in susceptible cases.
7. Flossing the teeth one wants to keep.
8. Use of interdental brushes in cases of gum recession and /or post surgical situations.

What is Root canal treatment?
In root canal treatment your dentist will clean out the nerve or nerves or inflamed and dead tissue from the centre of your tooth and render it sterile. Then the root canal/s will be filled up with a bio inert material followed by a filling and/or a post in the crown of your tooth.

When your dentist is satisfied with the healing he/she will place a cap or a crown with or without a post in the tooth based on clinical necessity. Sometimes antibiotics may be necessary if infection is perceived/ detected and painkillers may be prescribed if pain is expected.

Root canal treatment may take between 1-5 sittings. Your dentist decides that based on the status of the tooth.
Remember: an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure!

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