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Tooth decay (dental caries)

 

Tooth decay (dental caries) is damage to a tooth that can happen when decay-causing bacteria in your mouth make acids that attack the tooth’s surface, or enamel. This can lead to a small hole in a tooth, called a cavity. If tooth decay is not treated, it can cause pain, infection, and even tooth loss.

When decay-causing bacteria come into contact with sugars and starches from foods and drinks, they form an acid. This acid can attack the tooth’s enamel causing it to lose minerals.

This can happen if you eat or drink often, especially foods and drinks containing sugar and starches. The repeated cycles of these “acid attacks” will cause the enamel to continue to lose minerals. Over time, the enamel is weakened and then destroyed, forming a cavity.

 

Symptoms

In early tooth decay, there are not usually any symptoms. As tooth decay advances, it can cause a toothache (tooth pain) or tooth sensitivity to sweets, hot, or cold. If the tooth becomes infected, an abscess, or pocket of pus, can form that can cause pain, facial swelling, and fever.

Diagnosis

Tooth decay can be found during a regular dental check-up. Early tooth decay may look like a white spot on the tooth. If the decay is more advanced, it may appear as a darker spot or a hole in the tooth. The dentist can also check the teeth for soft or sticky areas or take an x-ray, which can show decay.

Treatment

Dentists commonly treat cavities by filling them. A dentist will remove the decayed tooth tissue and then restore the tooth by filling it with a filling material.

 

Helpful Tips

  • Use fluoride, a mineral that can prevent tooth decay from progressing, and even reverse, or stop, early tooth decay. You can get fluoride by
    • Brushing with fluoride toothpaste.
    • Drinking tap water with fluoride.
    • Using fluoride mouth rinse.
  • Have good oral hygiene routine. Brush teeth twice a day and regularly clean between teeth with floss or another interdental (between-the-teeth) cleaner.
  • Make smart food choices that limit foods high in sugars and starches. Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacking.
  • Do not use tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco. If you currently use tobacco, consider quitting.
  • See a dentist for regular check-ups and professional cleanings.

 

 

More about crowns and bridges

What are Dental Crowns and Tooth Bridges?
Both crowns and most bridges are fixed prosthetic devices. Crowns and bridges are cemented onto existing teeth or implants, and can only be removed by a dentist.

How do Crowns Work?
Your dentist may recommend a crown to:

  • Replace a large filling when there isn’t enough tooth remaining
  • Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
  • Restore a fractured tooth
  • Attach a bridge
  • Cover a dental implant
  • Cover a discolored or poorly shaped tooth
  • Cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment

How do Bridges Work?
A bridge may be recommended if you’re missing one or more teeth. Gaps left by missing teeth eventually cause the remaining teeth to rotate or shift into the empty spaces, resulting in a bad bite. The imbalance caused by missing teeth can also lead to gum disease and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.

Bridges are cemented to the natural teeth or implants surrounding the empty space. These teeth, called abutments, serve as anchors for the bridge. A replacement tooth, called a pontic, is attached to the crowns that cover the abutments.

How are Crowns and Bridges Made?
Before either a crown or a bridge can be made, the tooth (or teeth) must be reduced in size so that the crown or bridge will fit over it properly. After reducing the tooth/teeth, your dentist will take an impression to provide an exact mold for the crown or bridge. If porcelain is to be used, your dentist will determine the correct shade for the crown or bridge to match the color of your existing teeth.

Using this impression, a dental lab then makes your crown or bridge, in the material your dentist specifies.

How Long do Crowns and Bridges Last?
While crowns and bridges can last a lifetime, they do sometimes come loose or fall out. A bridge can lose its support if the teeth or bone holding it in place are damaged by dental disease. Most important is to practice good oral hygine. Keep your gums and teeth healthy by Brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing daily.

Image result for crowns and bridges

 

Crowns and Bridges

 

Bridges and crowns are fixed prosthetic devices that are cemented onto existing teeth or implants, by a dentist or prosthodontist. Crowns are used most commonly to entirely cover or “cap” a damaged tooth or cover an implant. Your dentist may recommend a crown to:

  • Replace a large filling when there isn’t enough tooth remaining
  • Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
  • Restore a fractured tooth
  • Attach a bridge
  • Cover a dental implant
  • Cover a discolored or poorly shaped tooth
  • Cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment
  • Gaps left by missing teeth eventually cause the remaining teeth to shift resulting in a bad bite. This can also lead to gum disease and TMJ disorders. Bridges are commonly used if you’re missing one or more teeth. They cover the space where the teeth are missing and are cemented to natural teeth or implants surrounding the space.

 

Types of Dental Crown Materials
There are four different types of materials used for dental crowns:

  1. All ceramic (porcelain-based).
  2. Porcelain fused to metal.
  3. Gold alloys.
  4. Base metal alloys.

Care

While crowns and bridges can last a lifetime, they do sometimes come loose or fall out. The most important step you can take to ensure the longevity of your crown is to practice good oral hygiene. Keep your gums and teeth healthy by brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing daily. See your dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings.

To prevent damage to your new crown or bridge, avoid chewing hard foods, ice or other hard objects.

Procedure

All ceramic and porcelain fused to metal crowns can be matched to the color of your natural teeth. A bridge is mounted onto a space where teeth are missing and is attached onto adjacent teeth. These teeth, called abutments, serve as anchors for the bridge. As with crowns, you have a choice of materials for bridges. Your dentist can help you decide which is best for you, based on the location of the missing tooth (or teeth), its function, aesthetic considerations and cost.

 

Dental-Crowns-and-Bridges

Fluorosis

Fluorosis is a cosmetic condition that affects the teeth. It’s caused by overexposure to fluoride during the first eight years of life. This is the time when most permanent teeth are being formed.

After the teeth come in, the teeth of those affected by fluorosis may appear mildly discolored. For instance, there may be lacy white markings that only dentists can detect. In more severe cases, however, the teeth may have:-

  • Stains ranging from yellow to dark brown
  • Surface irregularities
  • Pits that are highly noticeable

Fluorosis Causes

A major cause of fluorosis is the inappropriate use of fluoride-containing dental products such as toothpaste and mouth rinses. Sometimes, children enjoy the taste of fluoridated toothpaste so much that they swallow it instead of spitting it out.

But there are other causes of fluorosis. For example, taking a higher-than-prescribed amount of a fluoride supplement during early childhood can cause it. So can taking a fluoride supplement when fluoridated drinking water or fluoride-fortified fruit juices and soft drinks already proviFluorosis Symptoms

 

 Fluorosis Treatments

In many cases, fluorosis is so mild that no treatment is needed. Or, it may only affect the back teeth where it can’t be seen.

The appearance of teeth affected by moderate-to-severe fluorosis can be significantly improved by a variety of techniques. Most of them are aimed at masking the stains.

Such techniques may include:

  • Tooth whitening and other procedures to remove surface stains; note that bleaching teeth may temporarily worsen the appearance of fluorosis.
  • Bonding, which coats the tooth with a hard resin that bonds to the enamel
  • Crowns
  • Veneers, which are custom-made shells that cover the front of the teeth to improve their appearance; these are used in cases of severe fluorosis.
  • MI Paste, a calcium phosphate product that is sometimes combined with methods like microabrasion to minimize tooth discoloration.

 

Image result for fluorosis

 

Trigeminal neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from your face to your brain. If you have trigeminal neuralgia, even mild stimulation of your face — such as from brushing your teeth or putting on makeup — may trigger a jolt of excruciating pain.

Because of the variety of treatment options available, having trigeminal neuralgia doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doomed to a life of pain. Doctors usually can effectively manage trigeminal neuralgia with medications, injections or surgery.

Symptoms

Trigeminal neuralgia symptoms may include one or more of these patterns:

  • Episodes of severe, shooting or jabbing pain that may feel like an electric shock
  • Spontaneous attacks of pain or attacks triggered by things such as touching the face, chewing, speaking or brushing teeth
  • Bouts of pain lasting from a few seconds to several minutes
  • Episodes of several attacks lasting days, weeks, months or longer — some people have periods when they experience no pain
  • Constant aching, burning feeling that may occur before it evolves into the spasm-like pain of trigeminal neuralgia
  • Pain in areas supplied by the trigeminal nerve, including the cheek, jaw, teeth, gums, lips, or less often the eye and forehead
  • Pain affecting one side of the face at a time, though may rarely affect both sides of the face
  • Pain focused in one spot or spread in a wider pattern
  • Attacks that become more frequent and intense over time

When to see a doctor

If you experience facial pain, particularly prolonged or recurring pain or pain unrelieved by over-the-counter pain relievers, see your doctor.

Diagnosis

Your doctor may conduct many tests to diagnose trigeminal neuralgia and determine underlying causes for your condition, including:

  • A neurological examination.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Your facial pain may be caused by many different conditions, so an accurate diagnosis is important. Your doctor may order additional tests to rule out other conditions.

Treatment

Trigeminal neuralgia treatment usually starts with medications, and some people don’t need any additional treatment. However, over time, some people with the condition may stop responding to medications, or they may experience unpleasant side effects. For those people, injections or surgery provide other trigeminal neuralgia treatment options.

If your condition is due to another cause, such as multiple sclerosis, your doctor will treat the underlying condition.

 

 

Toothaches

Causes of Toothaches

Toothaches have many causes, from gum disease to jaw clenching, but tooth root sensitivity can also cause a tooth to ache.

The tooth root includes the lower two-thirds of the tooth, and it is usually buried in the jawbone. But when gum disease develops, the bacteria that cause the disease can also dissolve the bone around the tooth root. The combination of dissolved bone and receding gums means that more of the tooth root is exposed. Without protection from healthy gums and healthy bone, the root often becomes sensitive to hot and cold and to sour foods.In some cases, the sensitivity is so severe that you may avoid very hot, cold or sour foods.

If the root exposure is not severe, try using a special toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth that contains fluoride and other minerals. The extra fluoride and minerals will help to strengthen the exposed root and make it less sensitive.

The best way to manage root sensitivity and to prevent gum disease with a consistent oral health care program of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing. Try a soft bristle toothbrush to avoid irritating your gums, which can increase the risk of root exposure and sensitivity

close-up of a young woman holding her cheek in pain

Pregnancy Gingivitis

Pregnancy Gingivitis and Pregnancy Tumors

Pregnancy gingivitis is caused by the hormonal changes that increase the blood flow to the gum tissue and cause your gums to be more sensitive, irritable, and swollen This makes it easier for plaque to build up on your teeth and makes you more susceptible to gingivitis.

Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase your risk for developing oral health problems like gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and Periodontitis (gum disease). As a result of varying hormone levels, 40% of women will develop gingivitis sometime during their pregnancy — a condition called pregnancy gingivitis.

The increased level of progesterone in pregnancy may make it easier for certain gingivitis-causing bacteria to grow, as well as make gum tissue more sensitive to plaque and exaggerate the body’s response to the toxins (poisons) that result from plaque. In fact, if you already have significant gum disease, being pregnant may make it worse.

Pregnancy Gingivitis Symptoms

Gingivitis is most common during months two to eight of pregnancy. Tell your dental professional when you are pregnant—he or she may recommend more frequent dental cleanings during the second trimester or early in the third trimester to help combat the effects of increased progesterone and help you avoid gingivitis. This extra plaque may cause swelling, bleeding, redness and/or tenderness in the gums. As a result, pregnant women are more likely to develop gingivitis even if they follow a consistent oral health care routine.

Pregnancy Gingivitis Treatments and Prevention

To control the amount of plaque in your mouth and to prevent gingivitis, follow these steps to reduce the bacteria that can lead to pregnancy gingivitis.

Steps to Prevent Pregnancy Gingivitis

  • Brush twice a day, preferably in the morning and at night
  • Take your time; you should spend at least two minutes brushing your teeth
  • Be sure to use anti-plaque toothpaste to help protect your teeth from decay and gingivitis
  • Rinse thoroughly after brushing to get rid of bacteria in hard-to-reach places
  • Remember to floss daily to help avoid the build-up of bacteria
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet; be sure that you are getting enough calcium, vitamins D, C and A, phosphorous and protein.
  • Avoid sugary snacks
  • Continue to visit your dental professional regularly (once it is safe for the baby)

Is-Gingivitis-Contagious
 

Periodontal Diseases

Gum Diseases, also known as periodontal diseases, are usually caused by a build-up of bacteria and plaque that inflames and infects the gums. Plaque is a clear film on the teeth to which bacteria sticks, and if it’s not removed with brushing and flossing, it will turn into a hard material called tartar. Tartar and bacteria deposits around and under the gum line are the main causes of periodontal diseases.

There are two types of periodontal disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.

  • Gingivitis is a milder form of gum disease, in which gums become red, swollen, and may bleed easily.
  • Periodontitis is a much more serious oral health condition in which the inflammation spreads deep below the gum line and involves the bone and tissues that hold teeth in place. Periodontitis can cause deep pockets of infection, which may result in the loss of teeth and their surrounding bone if it’s left untreated.

Fortunately, there are several procedures available to treat these oral health problems, depending on the severity of the disease.

The primary goal of any treatment for periodontal disease is to control and eliminate the tartar and bacterial infection around the teeth and under the gums. Treatments range from deep cleanings to oral surgery.

Gum-Disease-PicturesPeriodontal Disease Prevention

The best ways to prevent gingivitis from graduating to periodontitis are to:
  • Brush your teeth after every meal.
  • Floss at least once a day.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Avoid tobacco products.
  • Get regular dental checkups and cleanings.

Dental Fillings

Overview

A filling is used to treat a small hole, or cavity, in a tooth. To repair a cavity, a dentist removes the decayed tooth tissue and then fills the space with a filling material.

Causes

Tooth decay is damage to a tooth that can happen when harmful bacteria in your mouth make acids that attack the outer layer of the tooth called enamel. This can lead to a small hole in a tooth, called a cavity. More severe decay can cause a large hole or even destruction of the entire tooth. If tooth decay is not treated, it can cause pain, infection, and even tooth loss.

When a tooth is exposed to acid frequently—for example, if you eat or drink often, especially foods or drinks containing sugar and starches—the repeated cycles of acid attacks cause the enamel to continue to lose minerals. A white spot may appear where minerals have been lost. This is a sign of early decay.

Tooth decay can be stopped or reversed at this point. Enamel can repair itself by using minerals from saliva and fluoride from toothpaste or other sources. But if the tooth decay process continues, more minerals are lost. Over time, the enamel is weakened and destroyed, forming a cavity.

Treatment

There are several types of filling material currently available to repair cavities, including tooth- colored (composite) fillings and silver-colored (amalgam) fillings. Composite resin materials are increasingly used to fill teeth because many people prefer tooth-colored fillings and because composites continue to improve.

There are also treatments called crowns, used to repair badly broken-down teeth. Crowns can be made of Ceramic (tooth colored), gold or other metals like stainless steel (usually used on baby teeth). Ceramic is the most common material because of good strength and aesthetics.

Generally, dental fillings and crowns do not last a lifetime.

Amalgam-vs-Composite-Dental-Fillings

Oral Cancer

Oral-Cancer-Screening

Overview

Oral cancer includes cancers of the mouth and the back of the throat. Oral cancer most often occurs in people over the age of 40 and affects more than twice as many men as women. Most oral cancers are related to tobacco use, alcohol use (or both), or infection by the human papilloma virus (HPV).

Causes

Tobacco and alcohol use. Tobacco use of any kind, including cigarette smoking, puts you at risk for developing oral cancers. Heavy alcohol use also increases the risk. Using both tobacco and alcohol increases the risk even further.

HPV. Infection with the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus has been linked to oral cancers.

Age. Oral cancers most often occur in people over the age of 40.

Sun Exposure. Cancer of the lip can be caused by sun exposure.

Diet. A diet low in fruits and vegetables may play a role in oral cancer development.

Symptoms

If you have any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, see a dentist or a doctor.

  • A sore, irritation, lump or thick patch in your mouth, lip, or throat
  • A white or red patch in your mouth
  • A feeling that something is caught in your throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Difficulty moving your jaw or tongue
  • Swelling in your jaw
  • Numbness in your tongue or other areas of your mouth
  • Pain in one ear without hearing loss

Diagnosis

Because oral cancer can spread quickly, early detection is important. The exam is painless and takes only a few minutes. During the exam, your dentist or dental hygienist will check your face, neck, lips, and entire mouth for possible signs of cancer.

Treatment

When oral cancer is detected early, it is treated with surgery or radiation therapy. Oral cancer that is further along when it is diagnosed may use a combination of treatments.Your doctor may refer you to a specialist.Other health care professionals who may be part of a treatment team include dentists, plastic surgeons, reconstructive surgeons, speech pathologists, oncology nurses, registered dietitians, and mental health counselors.

spot-oral-cancer

 

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