Caries, or tooth decay, is a lesion caused by an infectious disease affecting the tooth. It can affect dentin, enamel and/or cementum.
This rather common disease in humans generally shows in other mammals a deterioration in general health and/or major nutritional deficiencies.
It was during prehistory, more precisely during the Neolithic period, that caries appeared. It is then favored by the change in diet in humans. The new consumption of cereals and flours would be the basis of this dental disease. Only humans who lived gathering and hunting seem to have been unaffected by decay. The human teeth found at that time would be concrete proof of this.
First caused by sugar according to some, tooth decay has become a chronic condition caused basically by multiple factors such as oral hygiene or a poor diet.
On the surface of the tooth is the biofilm. It is the biofilm which undergoes an imbalance in its bacterial flora in the presence of caries which can be caused by several factors, other than sugar.
Although the interaction between the factors and the imbalance has not yet been fully understood, the formation of dental caries probably begins when the biofilm undergoes an imbalance allowing the faster reproduction of certain bacteria. The infectious disease sets in when the proportion of these bacteria reaches a critical threshold. As bacteria are necessary for the health of the biofilm, the idea of ??a vaccine was abandoned so as not to interfere with the normal and essential production of these bacteria.
As sugar was long considered the only basic factor in dental caries, it was in the 1990s that certain studies showed that sugar was not the only factor that could contribute to the development of caries. Since that time, it is therefore part of a list of potential factors that can affect the health of teeth:
The elderly, adolescents and very young children are more likely to develop cavities very frequently.
People with neglected oral hygiene such as bulimics or anorexics are also much more at risk of regularly developing dental caries.
Caries is often manifested by pain. Depending on the stage of evolution of the disease, the intensity of the pain can vary greatly. It very often happens that the first symptoms appear when the dentin is affected. However, pain may also not occur until very late in the course of development, which is why prevention is always the best solution. Visiting the dentist regularly avoids having to suffer the pain of decay because he can treat the tooth as soon as the disease appears in the patient.
However, when the visits are more spaced out, the cavity then has time to evolve until it causes some rather unpleasant symptoms.
Sweet or cold pain (urgent treatment): Very often caused by denudation of the dental neck or by active caries.
Pain on pressure or heat: Very often caused by the resumption of a cavity under the filling already performed, then causing the necrosis of the tooth.
Sometimes visible damage: A brown or white spot can mean an old cavity. A hole usually means that the cavity is very advanced.
An unpleasant taste can also be caused by caries but the complication most often found is when the nerve is affected by the deterioration as well as the root and the base of the tooth. An abscess can then occur if no treatment is undertaken and the nerve to the tooth dies.
Diagnosis and treatment
A simple examination can very often allow the dentist to identify the cavity. However, it also happens that an X-ray is necessary when the cavity is located between two teeth or when the symptoms are not yet present.
Obturation is the usual treatment for caries. An amalgam of several metals (resin, porcelain, gold, etc.) can be used to replace the decayed portion of the tooth. The crown can also be used if the cavity is too severe. Replacement crowns can be metal, porcelain, gold, or metal and porcelain.
Root canal treatment may also sometimes be necessary if the nerve is infected or dies due to decay.
Depending on the severity, the dentist may sometimes suggest to his patient the total extraction of the tooth in order to replace it with an artificial tooth. Several options are then available to the patient depending on the case. Implant, bridge or dental prosthesis are potential solutions suggested by the treating professional.
Dental prevention is more and more topical. Regular consultation and good oral hygiene are essential to prevent dental disease. Good habits developed early on are always preferable and beneficial to overall health. The same goes for oral and dental health.
Here is an example of the 10 Dental Commandments:
1. Brush your teeth in the morning and evening and after each meal
2. Brush your teeth for a minimum of 3 minutes
3. Limit very sugary foods at meals
4. Avoid snacking between meals
5. Rinse well after snacking between meals or after a sugary drink
6. Chew sugar-free gum
7. Use a straw to reduce contact with sugar
8. Change the toothbrush regularly
9. Choose fluoridated toothpaste
10. Visit the dentist every 6 months
These examples of good habits can make all the difference between good oral and dental health and the multiplication of cavities over the lifetime of the teeth.
A healthy diet accompanied by good lifestyle habits generally contributes to good general health as well as good dental health for everyone.