Dental decay is one of the most common diseases in the world. It is caused by bacteria residing in the mouth. These bacteria feed on the food particles stuck on the surface of teeth. The acid that is produced as a byproduct eats away the tooth surface slowly. After some time a tiny hole appears which gradually enlarges when more and more bacteria and plaque colonizes this cavity. The whitish substance that you find on the surface of teeth is called plaque. It contains bacteria, saliva, food particles and dead cells from our mouth.

Initially there will be little pain or any other symptoms. Once the decay has entered the more sensitive layers of the teeth (dentine) the tooth starts becoming sensitive. If the decay spreads deeper, then it can reach the pulp causing inflammation and infection of the pulp. The tooth may need to undergo a root canal treatment or extraction if the decay has entered the pulp.

What are the complications of dental decay?

Dental decay can result in a toothache, which can affect our day to day activities and can pose difficulties while chewing food or drinking liquids. If the decay is not treated in time, it can also lead to a dental abscess which can cause severe pain, swelling and discomfort. Dental decay can weaken a tooth which can cause the tooth to crack when chewing upon hard substances.

Sometimes the decay can spread to areas in between teeth. The cavity can attract further plaque and calculus deposits and can result in gum disease and infection.

Long standing untreated decayed teeth can also cause bad breath.

How to fight dental decay?

Make an appointment and visit your dentist every 6 months.

Get the decayed tooth restored without delay.

Do not forget to brush your teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste daily.

Floss daily.

Avoid sugary drinks and snacks as much as possible.

Avoid eating in between meals.

Wash your mouth after eating.

Chewing Xylitol gum after eating will help prevent decay.

Regular topical fluoride application also helps prevent decay.

Ask your dentist for dental sealants. Dental sealants seal the grooves present on the biting surfaces of newly erupted teeth. Food can no longer accumulate in the sealed grooves. Adults can benefit from sealants too.

Eat a healthy balanced diet with lots of green leafy vegetables and fiber.