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You call it a cavity. Your dentist calls it tooth decay or dental caries. They're all names for a hole in your tooth. The cause of tooth decay is plaque, a sticky substance in your mouth made up mostly of germs. Tooth decay starts in the outer layer, called the enamel. Without a filling, the decay can get deep into the tooth and its nerves and cause a toothache or abscess.

To help prevent cavities

  • Brush your teeth every day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Clean between your teeth every day with floss or another type of between-the-teeth cleaner
  • Snack smart - limit sugary snacks
  • See your dentist or oral health professional regularly

Symptoms of Tooth Decay

The following features are indicative of Tooth Decay:
  • tooth sensitivity
  • tooth ache
  • pain while eating or drinking something sweet, hot or cold
  • visible holes or pits in your teeth
  • brown, black or white staining on any surface of a tooth
  • pain when you bite down
It is possible that Tooth Decay shows no physical symptoms and still be present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Tooth Decay

The following are the most common causes of Tooth Decay:
  • frequent snacking
  • sipping sugary drinks
  • not cleaning the teeth well
  • bacterial breakdown of the hard tissues of the teeth

Risk Factors for Tooth Decay

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Tooth Decay:
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Sjogren's syndrome
  • bedtime infant feeding
  • inadequate brushing
  • younger or older age
  • not getting enough fluoride
  • dry mouth
  • eating disorders
  • heartburn

Prevention of Tooth Decay

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Tooth Decay. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • adopt good brushing and flossing habits
  • regular dental visits
  • limit the consumption of drinks with sugar
  • do not give baby bottles to infants during sleep
  • intake of low sugar diet
  • replace your toothbrush every three or four months

Occurrence of Tooth Decay

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Tooth Decay cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Tooth Decay can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Tooth Decay can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Tooth Decay

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Tooth Decay:
  • Physical examination: Examining your mouth and teeth to detect tooth decay
  • Probing your teeth with dental instruments: To evaluate the soft areas of tooth
  • Dental X-rays: To determine the extent of cavities and tooth decay

Doctor for Diagnosis of Tooth Decay

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Tooth Decay:
  • Dentist

Complications of Tooth Decay if untreated

Yes, Tooth Decay causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Tooth Decay is left untreated:
  • severe toothache
  • tooth loss
  • abscess formation
  • chewing problems
  • pus around a tooth

Procedures for Treatment of Tooth Decay

The following procedures are used to treat Tooth Decay:
  • Fluoride treatments: To restore your tooth's enamel
  • Fillings: To treat the tooth decay
  • Crowns: To replaces your tooth's entire natural crown
  • Root canal: To repair and save a badly damaged tooth
  • Tooth extraction: To eliminate the infection

Self-care for Tooth Decay

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Tooth Decay:
  • Rinse your mouth with fluoride: Helps in preventing the risk of developing cavities
  • Drink some tap water: Helps in reducing the tooth decay

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Tooth Decay

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Tooth Decay:
  • Use neem extract dental gel: Lowers the plaque index and bacterial count in dental cavities

Is Tooth Decay Infectious?

Yes, Tooth Decay is known to be infectious. It can spread across people via the following means:
  • from mother to infants by sharing utensils and cups

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Tooth Decay.

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