Dental caries: Causes, description, Treatment

Mouth | Odontologie | Dental caries (Disease)

Dental caries: Description

Dental cavities, also known as caries, are holes in the two outer layers of a tooth called the enamel and the dentin usually caused by bacteria in the mouth and from poor oral hygiene. The enamel is the outermost white hard surface and the dentin is the yellow layer just beneath enamel. Both layers serve to protect the inner living tooth tissue called the pulp, where blood vessels and nerves reside. Dental cavities are common, affecting over 90% of the population.

Small cavities may not cause pain, and may be unnoticed by the patient. The larger cavities can collect food, and the inner pulp of the affected tooth can become irritated by bacterial toxins, foods that are cold, hot, sour, or sweet-causing toothache.

Symptoms may consist of: tooth pain, jaw pain, facial pain, cold or heat intolerance of teeth, gum swelling.

Causes and Risk factors

The presentation of caries is highly variable. However the risk factors and stages of development are similar. Initially it may appear as a small chalky area (smooth surface caries), which may eventually develop into a large cavitation. Sometimes caries may be visible direct.

A person experiencing caries may not be aware of the disease. Before the cavity forms, the process is reversible, but once a cavity forms, the lost tooth structure cannot be regenerated. A lesion that appears brown and shiny suggests dental caries were once present but the demineralization process has stopped, leaving a stain. A brown spot that is dull in appearance is probably a sign of active caries.

Dental caries: Treatment and Diagnosis

Initial treatment for small dental caries includes mouthwash and fluoride treatments. If the tooth surface has been damaged permanently, dental fillings are used to repair the openings and seal the tooth. This prevents additional damage to the tooth. If the visible surface of the tooth has become damaged, some of the tooth may be removed and a crown, or cap, must be placed over the remaining tooth.

In some cases, damage occurs to the inside of the tooth. In this case, the inside of the tooth is replaced with a filling, which is called a root canal. For severe cases, the entire tooth must be removed

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