The word caries is derived from the Latin word meaning “rot” or “decay”. Due to its higher occurrence in the last few decades, it can be considered the disease of modern times. Every individual is susceptible to this disease throughout their lifetime. If left untreated, this disease can lead to pain, tooth loss, infections etc.

  Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, constantly forms on your teeth. When you eat or drink foods containing sugars or starches, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack your tooth enamel. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with your teeth and after many such attacks, the enamel breaks down and forms a cavity.

TYPES OF DENTAL CARIES

Root Caries

nursing bottle caries (seen in children)

Blue arrow – cavity; black arrow – infection

Risk Of Caries

  1. Cariogenic bacteria(streptococcus mutans…).
  2.  Inadequate salivary flow.
  3. Insufficient fluoride exposure.
  4. poor oral hygiene.
  5. Inappropriate methods of feeding infants.
  6. Tobacco chewing.
  7. carbohydrate rich food.

Symptoms

  • Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold.
  • Tooth discomfort after eating.
  • Darkening of the tooth surface.
  • Bad breath or a foul taste in the mouth.
  • Throbbing, lingering pain

Prevention

1. Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste –

Apart from using good toothpastes and brushes, an important part of preventing tooth decay is  knowing how to brush and floss correctly. You should gently brush  your teeth on all sides with a soft bristle brush using a fluoridated toothpaste . Take the time to brush carefully along the gum line. Lightly brushing your tongue also helps to remove plaque and food debris and makes your mouth feel fresh.

2. Clean between the teeth daily with a floss or an interdental cleaner.

             

3. Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.

4. Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings, fluoride application and oral exams to detect any abnormalities in their initial stage.

 

Treatment

The different treatment options are:

1.     Restoration (filling) using different filling materials according to the need – in case of small cavities.

2.     Root canal therapy – in case of large cavities that have evaded the pulp of the tooth

3.     Extraction of the tooth if it is not salvageable.

Important tip for children: Wiping the baby’s gum ridges with a soft cloth or wet cotton  after each nursing and feeding is important. This removes sugars found in the milk that can cause tooth decay. Bottle-feeding should end by age one and you should never put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk or juice.  It is recommended that all babies have an oral examination by their first birthday. This is to screen for abnormal conditions and damaging feeding practices, and to educate parents on proper care of the teeth and mouth. But this practice is hardly followed in Nepal.

Therefore, with regular dental visits, you get the required information and motivation along with care for your teeth which ultimately help you to enjoy excellent oral health.