Tooth Decay – Cavity

Tooth decay, which is sometimes known as dental cavities or dental caries, is the annihilation of the outer surface of a tooth. Decay results from the action of bacteria that live in plaque, which is a sticky, whitish film formed by a protein in spit ( mucin ) and sweet substances in the mouth. The plaque bacteria sticking to tooth enamel use the starch and sugar from food fragments in the mouth to provide acid.


Tooth decay needs the concurrent presence of 3 factors:

  1. Plaque Bacteria
  2. Sugar
  3. Fragile Tooth Surface

Though a few micro-organisms found in the mouth may cause tooth decay, the most important illness agent seems to be Streptococcus mutans. The sugars utilized by the bacteria are simple sugars like glucose, sucrose, and lactose. They’re converted essentially into lactic acid. When this acid builds up on an insecure tooth surface, it melts the minerals in the enamel, making holes and vulnerable points ( cavities ). As the decay spreads inward into the middle layer ( the dentin ), the tooth becomes more susceptible to temperature and touch. When the decay reaches the centre of the tooth ( the pulp ), the ensuing redness ( pulpitis ) produces a toothache.


Tooth decay develops at varying rates. It could be found in a routine half-year dental check-up before the patient is even mindful of an issue. In some cases, the patient may experience common initial symptoms; for example, sensitivity to cold and hot liquids or local pain after eating extraordinarily sweet foods. The dentist or dental hygiene specialist may suspect tooth decay if a dark spot or a pit is seen in a visible exam. Front teeth might be checked for decay by shining a light from behind the tooth. This strategy is known as transillumination. Areas of decay, particularly between the teeth, will appear as obvious shadows when teeth are transilluminated. Digital X rays could be used to confirm the presence and extent of the decay. The dentist then makes the final clinical diagnosis by probing the enamel with a pointed instrument. Tooth decay in pits and fissures might be differentiated from dark shadows in the fissures of the chewing surfaces by a dye that selectively stains parts of the tooth that have lost mineral content. Dr. Lago also uses this dye to tell whether all tooth decay has been removed from a cavity before placing a bio-compatible restoration.


To treat most examples of tooth decay in adults, the doctor removes all decayed tooth structure, shapes the sides of the cavity, and fills the cavity with an Bio-compatible material. The filling is put in to restore and protect the tooth. If decay has attacked the pulp, the dentist may perform root canal treatment and cover the tooth with a crown. In cases of baby bottle tooth decay, the dentist must assess the limits of the damage before deciding on the treatment system. If the difficulty is caught early, the teeth concerned can be dealt with Alternative Methods, followed by changes in the infant’s feeding habits and better oral cleanliness. First teeth with apparent decay in the enamel which has not yet progressed to the pulp must be protected with metal-free crowns.

Fillings aren’t customarily a choice in infants due to the tiny size of their teeth and the concern of re-occurring decay. When the decay has advanced to the pulp, pulling the tooth is sometimes the treatment of choice.

Sadly, loss of first teeth at this age may impede the young child’s capability to eat and talk.It could also have ill effects on the alignment and spacing of the permanent teeth when they come in. Space maintainers must then be utilized.


GENERAL CARE OF THE MOUTH. The best way to prevent tooth decay is to brush the teeth at least twice a day, preferably after every meal and snack, and floss daily. Cavities develop most easily in spaces that are hard to clean. These areas include surface grooves, spaces between teeth, and the area below the gum line. Effective brushing cleans each outer tooth surface, inner tooth surface, and the horizontal chewing surfaces of the back teeth, as well as the tongue. Flossing once a day also helps prevent gum disease by removing food particles and plaque at and below the gum line, as well as between teeth. Dr. Lago recommends visits every six months for oral examination and professional cleaning to prevent and maintain optimal oral health.

MOUTH CARE IN ADULTS. Older adults who have lost teeth or had them removed still need to maintain a clean mouth. Bridges and dentures must be kept clean to prevent gum disease. Dentures should be relined and adjusted by the doctor every 12-24 months to maintain proper fit. These adjustments help to keep the gums from becoming red, swollen, tender and losing more bone integrity.

REMOVAL OF OLD AMALGAMS OR COMPOSITES. Overtime decay will creep underneath old fillings. It is important to fully remove the old material properly so as not to expose patient to harmful toxins. It is common that when a filling is replaced decay is left behind leaving significant risk to loss of teeth. Testing is performed to see if any remaining decay/bacteria remains. In addition, it is beneficial for patient’s to replace Amalgams because of the Electrostatic (battery affect produced from contact with other metals and the simple fact that these metal fillings expand and contract to cause cracks and fractures in the tooth. Composites on the other-hand, can shrink and have a component called BPA a plastic cancer causing material.

MOUTH CARE IN CHILDREN. Parents can easily prevent baby bottle tooth decay by not allowing a child to fall asleep with a bottle containing sweetened liquids. Bottles should be filled only with plain, unsweetened water. The child should be introduced to drinking from a cup around six months of age and weaned from bottles by twelve months. If an infant seems to need oral comfort between feedings, a pacifier specially designed for the mouth may be used. Pacifiers, however, should never be dipped in honey, corn syrup, or other sweet liquids. After the eruption of the first tooth, parents should begin routinely wiping the infant’s teeth and gums with a moist piece of gauze or a soft cloth, especially right before bedtime. Parents may begin brushing a child’s teeth with a small, soft toothbrush at about two years of age, when most of the primary teeth have come in. As the child grows, he or she will learn to handle the toothbrush, but parents should control the application of toothpaste and do the followup brushing until the child is about seven years old.

Environmental & Biological Dentistry
3 S. Prospect (Suite #9)
Park Ridge, IL 60068 (ten minutes from O' Hare International Airport)
Phone: +1 (847) 823-3441