Tooth decay, otherwise known as dental caries, is as considered one of the most common conditions worldwide; in fact, it is second to the common cold as the most common health problem. It affects everyone, young or old alike. It can be caused by milk and baby bottle for an infant, sweet foods and improper oral hygiene for children, and inappropriate diet and vices for older people. Since tooth decay has an impact in a person’s self-esteem and health in general, it is important that tooth decay is treated promptly and well.
Treatment for dental caries can be categorized into two – treatment for tooth decay at its onset, and treatment for tooth decay in its later stages.
If tooth decay has not yet destroyed the affected tooth, the usual methods of treatment are proper oral hygiene, fluoride, and regular check-ups to the dentist. This is because if tooth decay is diagnosed at an early stage, its progression can be blocked, future decays reversed, and unnecessary expenses prevented.
Proper oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing, is a great way to prevent further damage, or to keep new decays from occurring. Using fluoride toothpaste or undergoing fluoride treatment, is another treatment advised by dentists to stop tooth decay before cavities are formed, and to reduce the chances of sensitive teeth that is a common complication of weakened teeth. Check-ups with the dentist are advised at least twice a year. This is so that your dentist can advise treatments if tooth decay is diagnosed, and can even help educate you in the proper caring of your teeth through pictures, and readings.
For infants, where the common cause of tooth decay is milk that stays in the baby’s mouth while sleeping, or a baby bottle that is used as a tether, parents are trained on how to properly schedule feeding time to prevent any dental problems .
If, however, the damage in your cavities made by tooth decay has become extensive, other dental treatments are advised such as fillings, crown, root canal and extraction. Filling is the advisable treatment if tooth decay has already destroyed parts of the tooth or resulted in a chipped tooth. Silver alloy or plastic fillings are applied as replacement, or to restore the original shape of the tooth after the decayed part has been removed.
A crown is applied if the damage to the tooth is more extensive. In this type of treatment, decayed or weakened areas of the tooth are removed, replaced, and fitted with a crown – that serves as a replacement for a part or for the whole tooth. It is also used for teeth that are severely damaged for fillings to work.
In cases where nerve endings of the tooth have died due to tooth decay, or the infected part is the pulp of the tooth, the third type of treatment is applied – root canal. In this procedure, the dentist removes the center of the tooth, nerves, and blood vessel tissues. The exposed tooth is then filled with a sealing material such as silver alloy, and then sealed with fillings or fitted with a crown.
The fourth treatment – extraction, is the treatment that everyone wants to avoid. In cases where the root of the tooth becomes greatly damaged by tooth decay, the entire tooth may need to be removed.
These treatments are developed to aid people with tooth decay depending on the severity of their condition. However, one should not rely on these available treatments to justify taking their teeth for granted. Remember that prevention and identification of the cause of your tooth decay is always better than cure.