Tooth decay or Dental caries, is one of the most common chronic diseases that affects children and young adults alike. Over the years, there has been a significant increase in the number of people suffering from dental caries, mainly owing to an increase in sugar in the diet, and poor dental hygiene.
- One of the prominent causes of Tooth decay is the accumulation of sticky deposits called plaque around the teeth. Plaque is, essentially, a combination of food debris, saliva and the bacteria that are present in the mouth. In course of time, the plaque gets hardened into a substance called tartar. Both tartar and plaque contain harmful acids which can eat away the protective, hard enamel covering of the tooth, thus resulting in cavities. Cavities can destroy the softer internal structures of the tooth such as the dentin and the pulp. If they are left untreated for a longer period of time, they can even damage the nerve and blood vessels of the tooth, and finally the tooth itself.
- Food items which are rich in carbohydrates could also cause extensive damage to teeth.
- Consumption of carbonated soft drinks can cause considerable erosion of the tooth enamel.
- Consumption of sweets such as chocolates, cakes, etc. is yet another reason for tooth decay.
- Poor dental care can also result in dental caries.
Some of the general symptoms of tooth decay are toothache, formation of pits or holes, development of tooth abscess (accumulation of pus caused by bacterial infection of the centre of the tooth), Gingivitis, development of brown patches on the infected teeth, bad breath and discoloration of the tooth.
- Always brush teeth with a gel or toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Floss and brush your teeth regularly.
- Use artificial sweeteners instead of natural sweeteners as they can cause damage to the teeth.
- Wash your mouth properly after eating sugary food.
- Visit your dentist regularly for dental check-ups.
- Parents must be educated about the importance and maintenance of proper oral health. An awareness of oral hygiene will surely help parents to prevent tooth decay in their children.