Dental caries affects a lot of people’s lives. It is more commonly known as caries, cavities, or, as most commercials for toothpaste would call them, tooth decay. Cavities are visually different in that some of them can come in the color of yellow or black.
Understanding the general idea of what causes dental caries can go a long way in helping to prevent them. Dental caries affects billions of people. The World Health Organization once estimated that around 2.43 billion people have a tooth that is infected with a cavity.
Knowing their cause, signs, and symptoms helps in avoiding the condition. Thankfully, understanding and learning more about dental cavities is not difficult.
What is the general cause of dental caries?
Dental caries are caused by bacteria. It is a result of the bacteria growing and breaking down the hard tissues of a tooth, that is to say, the cementum, enamel, and dentin. The breakdown is fueled by the acid produced by sugar or crumbs of food on the surface of the teeth. Bacteria thrive on simple sugars, which is why people who have a high sugar diet are at a high risk of acquiring dental caries.
There are other risk factors that can increase the chance of having cavities. Conditions that lower saliva production have a strong chance in increasing the risk of getting a cavity. Conditions such as Sjorgens syndrome and diabetes can lower saliva production, and thus increase the chances of getting a cavity.
Medications can also be contributory to the decrease in the production of saliva. Some forms of antihistamines and antidepressants can lower saliva production. It is strongly recommended to consult with a dentist to avoid such complications.
Dental cavities are strongly associated with other factors such as poor dental hygiene, receding gums, as well as poverty.
Signs and symptoms
One of the biggest problems with dental caries is that most people might not be aware that they have them. Some of them might not even know what it actually is.
The earliest sign of a dental cavity is a chalky white spot on the tooth’s surface. This is an indication that there is a demineralization of the enamel. This white chalky spot is referred to by many names such as microcavity or white spot lesion.
If the condition is still a white spot lesion, then the process can still be treated and reversed. However, severe damage caused by dental caries can no longer be repaired.
Lesions that are dark brown in color and shiny suggest that there was once a cavity. However, demineralization of the tooth has at this point stopped. Lighter-colored cavities are indicative of active decay. Immediate consultation with a dental healthcare professional is strongly advised.