In simple words, decay is infection in your teeth. The bacteria enter your teeth & cause infection. A decayed tooth may have a visible prominent hole in it (cavity) or the infection may be seen as a blue/grey/black discolouration on the tooth. When the bacteria eat up your tooth to a large extent, causing a hole in it, it is called a cavity.
Each tooth has 5 surfaces. Whichever surface accumulates food on or next to it gets infected or gets a cavity. It can be on top of the tooth, on the sides (between 2 teeth) & even at the neck of the tooth near the gum line.
Our teeth are not flat. Teeth have grooves on it’s top surface. Sometimes the grooves are deep & thin that the food & saliva get lodged in them but the brush is unable to clean it. Now this lodged food attracts bacteria, which in turn start eating your teeth & start causing decay. Teeth are also curved, almost oval shaped. Wherever (between 2 teeth or along the gum line), food gets stuck, bacteria can cause cavities.
No. The structure of your teeth is one of the reasons that could cause decay in teeth.
Decay is also dependant on other factors, like the kind of food you eat & your salivary immunity.
People who eat more fruits tend to get less decay because these food items get easily cleaned from your teeth. On the other hand, people who eat more sticky & processed foods, which either get stuck in between the teeth or are difficult to clean via brushing, are more prone to get cavities. Also people who are fond of drinking aerated drinks (pepsi, soda, etc.) have more chances of catching decay for the simple reason that these drinks are acidic & tend to erode teeth at a faster rate.
Another factor that may lead to cavity formation is your salivary immunity. There are some cavity fighting enzymes & proteins present in saliva. In some people the quantity of these enzymes may be a little less than normal, therefore, teeth may be more prone to get cavities.
A tooth only pains, once the nerve of the tooth gets infected. Here, the infection reaches the inner most part of the tooth & the whole tooth gets infected. At this stage, performing a simple filling of get rid of the pain or infection is not possible & is not the correct line of treatment. Root Canal Treatment (RCT) becomes the best & probably the last resort to save your tooth. In worst cases, tooth removal may be the only solution.
So if a decay is diagnosed in your teeth & your tooth isn’t paining, it’s the best time for you to get your tooth filled with a filling material & save it.
There should be no waiting once a decay has been diagnosed in your teeth. Since bacteria are lodged in your teeth, the decay will keep progressing. It is not automatically going to stop. At what rate the decay is going to spread, can’t be predicted.
Decay is comparatively slower when the bacteria are still digging in through the outer enamel layer of your tooth, as the layer is made of minerals & is hard. Once infection reaches the inner soft & spongy dentine, the bacteria spread out & the process becomes faster.
Depending on the type of decay you have, whether it’s the front tooth or the back one, top of the tooth or the front surface, whether your cavity is deep or superficial, the type of filling material is chosen. Composite / GIC are the filling materials available in the market. Silver fillings are not preferred anymore.
These days’ composite resin is the ruling filling material. It has lot of advantages, be it aesthetics, strength, conservation of tooth or inert nature. It can be used in majority of situations & serves as a good material. It comes in a lot of shades so it’s the material of choice for front teeth. For back teeth, high strength composites are available which can easily bear the chewing load.
BROKEN TOOTH / TEETH
Broken tooth / teeth are generally a cosmetic cause of concern. A tooth can be broken at various angles (chipped off tip of the tooth – fractured crown of the tooth)
Depending on the extent of damage in your tooth, various types of treatments can be planned.
Chipped off edges to small fractures = simple filling can be planned.
Medium crown fracture = x-ray is taken (if the tooth is vital), crown may be planned.
Large crown fracture = x-ray is taken (if the tooth is non vital), RCT along with crown may be planned.
Depending on the extent of damage and the correct line of treatment for you, the cost could range from Rs. 600 for a normal filling to Rs. 25,000 for complex RCT and crown(your choice).
If the extent of damage is limited, the procedure will be painless. In case you experience any discomfort, local anaesthesia can be used to relieve you of any associated pain. Post the treatment, usually no pain is observed. In case you experience any discomfort, you can always contact your dentist.
Filling usually is done instantly. If RCT and Crown work need to be done, it can usually be done within a week and temporary replacement is provided in the meantime.
Dental Radiographs (X-Rays)
Radiographs, commonly known as X-rays, are black and white internal pictures of the teeth, bones, and soft tissues around them. They are an important tool to help your dentist properly diagnose your oral health needs.
Dental X-rays are a useful diagnostic tool when helping your dentist detect damage and disease not visible during a regular dental exam. Since many oral diseases cannot be detected by just a visual examination, X-rays are a valuable preventive tool to help dentists detect oral health problems early. X-rays provide information about a patients’ oral health, such as early-stage cavities, gum disease or infections.
The Benefits of Dental X-Rays
Since many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues cannot be seen when your dentist examines your mouth, an X-ray can help reveal:
-small areas of decay between the teeth or existing fillings;
-infections in the bone;
-infection in the tooth.
Finding and treating dental problems early can save time, money and unnecessary discomfort. X-rays can help your dentist detect problems in your mouth that otherwise would not be seen or would be seen manifesting at a later date.
Types of X-rays
Bitewings are one of the most common sets of X-rays. Bitewings help diagnose gum disease and cavities between teeth.
A panorex is a full-mouth X-ray. This type of X-ray is particularly helpful for seeing the upper and lower jaws at one time and can show impacted teeth or other hidden structures that could be hard to see on the small, individual film. These Xrays show problems such as impacted wisdom teeth (which are stuck inside the jaw bone), infections, and are useful if any braces treatment is being planned.
A periapical (PA) X-ray refers to a single tooth X-ray that is taken to show a specific area of concern. If you have a tooth ache, your dentist is likely to recommend a PA film to see that whole tooth including the root tip.
X-rays are an important diagnostic tool for your dentist. Early detection and treatment of disease is the best way to ensure a healthy mouth over a lifetime.