Hygiene is a habit that has been tried to be inculcated in us since childhood. While most animals indulge in cleaning themselves, only humans have the highest knack for hygiene. Perhaps this is the effect of society on the people – a hygienic person is revered to be civilized and an unhygienic person is not.
Various nursery rhymes focus on taking care of one’s body – especially the mouth. Brushing is the first task people do during a day and is the first thing that kids are taught to by themselves. However, the mouth is the region that is mostly affected due to unhygienic practices – especially the teeth.
A routine visit to a dentist is encouraged for adults, but for children, these visits are a must. Due to the food children crave and are drawn to, combined with their inability to maintain ideal dental health. While children are especially discouraged from consuming certain sugary food, it is impractical for them to completely boycott them. Improper consumption of food and undermaintained dental hygiene can give rise to DENTAL CARRIES.
What are dental caries?
The incidence of dental caries is commonly called TOOTH CAVITIES. Cavities appear as holes in teeth and are permanently damaged – cavities cannot repair themselves while in the body. This is where a dentist comes in, capable of mending or FILLING the cavity as much as possible. Cavities are mostly found in the hard parts of the tooth and filling ensures the disease does not spread to the other regions of the teeth.
The formation of dental carries is triggered by the invasion of bacteria, unlimited consumption of sugary drinks, and salty snacks. These factors do not cause the holes in the teeth, instead, they contribute to the process of TOOTH DECAY. Decaying of teeth is a prolonged process and so, cavities are formed via a series of steps, initiated by the formation of PLAQUE.
Plaque is a sticky layer formed on the tooth surface due to unhygienic practices. Plaque is an example of a BIOFILM, a film formed due to the action of bacterial secretions on the surface. When improper dental hygiene is maintained, the teeth are layered with materials optimum for bacterial proliferation. Thus, the bacteria of the mouth rapidly multiply while feeding and secrete materials that form the plaque.
The plaque then lodges itself into the TARTAR, the region from the gums where the teeth originate. The plaque, in conjunction with the gums, makes it difficult to remove the plaque, and hence, bacterial invasion triumphs unless medical help is acquired. Further, the plaque causes holes in the ENAMEL of the teeth by eroding it. The erosion of enamel, a protective layer, facilitates the bacteria to travel to the inner parts of the teeth, especially the DENTIN.
Propagation of bacteria in the dentin causes sensitivity because the dentin is connected to the nerves, which may be damaged by the decay of the tooth. The next layer invaded by the bacteria is the PULP – which contains the blood vessels and the nerves. The bacterial load exerts a pressure on the nerves, thereby causing pain. This leads to the symptom of TOOTHACHE, which is usually noticed when one has cavities. Usually, toothache and discomfort act as an indication for a person to visit a dentist.
How to prevent dental cavities?
- BRUSHING properly is the preliminary step to avoid tooth decay. A toothpaste containing fluoride is considered suitable to prevent tooth decay since it forms a protective shield on the surface of the tooth. A fluorinated toothpaste can avoid or even reverse tooth decay. Dental hygienists can also administer a fluoride treatment to ensure the chances of tooth decay are drastically decreased.
- FLOSSING is the second step that must be ensured. If food is not leftover in the mouth, especially between the teeth, the bacteria do not have a source of nutrition and hence will be unable to proliferate in the mouth and cause decay.
- The type of food being consumed is also to be looked after. It is unrealistic to discourage children from sweet food, but it is possible to divert them towards healthier choices. Sugary food tends to get stuck to the gums and teeth, while fruits – which are naturally sweet – do not impart any such impact on the teeth.
- RINSING of the mouth is crucial to ensure any particulate food is flushed out of the mouth. Using a mouthwash will be a better solution than rinsing with tap water. Although, tap water has proven to contain some fluoride for sanitization purposes, which can be good for tooth health as well.
Dental hygiene is of prime importance since it can adversely affect our daily life. Unless it is maintained, it can cause chronic pain and discomfort. However, the manifestation of teeth cavities are individualistic, hence only a medical professional can accurately judge the health of the mouth and occurrence of caries. A dentist may prescribe antibiotics for prolonged incidences of tooth decay, which are administered through creams or injections.