Tooth decay is a common problem. A primary cause is that modern diets comprise mainly of processed foods, which contain a lot of sugars.
Sugar can easily be trapped in the grooves and pits of a tooth. These food deposits form plaque, a sticky substance that is a mixture of saliva and leftover food particles.
Plaque can progressively cause tooth decay because it contains bacteria. These bacteria contributes to tooth decay. Worse, bacteria like sugary foods.
How tooth decay occurs
The decay starts by affecting the tooth’s enamel – the thin protective layer on the tooth’s surface. This is the hardest part of the tooth and is made up of a virtually dead material. Thus, the decay may go unnoticed, unless you have regular check-ups with your dentist.
It may become noticeable after the cavity reaches the layer beneath the enamel. This layer is called dentin. It is sensitive and contains nerve endings. At this point,. you may start to feel sensitivity and pain.
After the dentine is the pulp, which is the deepest layer of the tooth. this section has the tooth’s vascular structure and acts as the nerve centre.
The pain becomes unbearable when the damage reaches the pulp.The nerves actively transmit pain and depending on a doctor’s recommendation, tooth filling may always be a popular treatment option.
Treating tooth cavities
Decay can sometimes occur under the gum line. When this happens, it will not be easily detected by the naked eye. Dentists may conduct visual exams to find decay.
If decay couldn’t be detected, an x-ray examination can be done to see the decay under your gum line or those wedged between your teeth.
If the x-ray results prove insufficient, the dentist may use a solution to test suspicious areas. Treatment will be needed if the cavity has reached the dentin.
Treating a tooth cavity is a two-part process – removing decay and replacing it with a tooth filling material.
- Removing decay
First, the dentist injects a local anaesthetic into the tooth.
Then, he uses a high-speed dental drill to remove all the tooth’s decayed portions. After this, the tooth is prepared for filling.
- Dental filling
The dentist inserts a liner into the tooth to reduce sensitivity. He may also add base cements to deeper fillings in order to insulate your tooth against temperature changes.
Dental fillings are then layered on top of the liner to rebuild the structure of your damaged tooth.
The dental filling is usually made from an amalgam, porcelain, resin or gold.
The choice of filling material depends on the location of the damaged surface(s), the patient’s level of cooperation with the dentist and a few other factors.
These fillings typically contain mercury, a substance that naturally occurs in the air, water, and soil.
Mercury is known to be quite toxic to humans in larger quantities.
Dental fillings and mercury
Despite the known dangers of mercury and dental fillings having it, there’s no clinical evidence of mercury poisoning among persons who have amalgam fillings.
As such, doctors have not advised against dental fillings.
Essential facts about fillings
Dental fillings are an amalgam of powdered silver, copper and tin, combined with metallic mercury. The dentist mixes these components to form a hard stable material.
This stability make amalgam fillings durable for chewing.
But there are other types of filling (white composite/plastic fillings). They are generally favoured for front teeth because they mimic the colour of teeth.
Filling failure may occur when the filling or the remaining part of the tooth around the fillings crack.
In either case, the edges of the fillings may progressively get detached from the tooth. When this happens, bacteria can enter the filling and cause further decay.
One sign is that the person would have bad breath even if there’s no visible cracks or pain. The decay needs to be treated as soon as possible lest it leads to infection, pain and tooth loss.
Given this, it is very important to visit your dentist regularly for dental care and check-ups. And do this even if there are no signs of decay yet. Remember that prevention is always the best way to fight tooth decay. .
Excellent oral hygiene is your best weapon to avoid the dental drill. Thus, be sure to brush your teeth at least twice every day, and after every meal if necessary. Plus, floss once a day.
In addition, reduce or avoid sugary snacks and drinks to discourage bacteria and visit a dentist on a regular basis.