Dental Caries (Tooth Decay) and Pulpitis (toothache)
Dental caries, more commonly known as tooth decay or cavities, is caused by regular intake of sugar products (sweets) and specific types of bacteria found in the mouth. The bacteria builds up at the gum line and on the teeth in a sticky film known as plaque. The plaque breaks down sugars in the mouth and converts them to acid. The acid gradually destroys the tooth enamel and the dentine layer underneath. As the dentine and enamel breakdown, cavities are created.
What to look for
- Look for dark patches on the teeth – these usually occur first on the tops, on the sides and around the necks of the back teeth (molars & pre-molars).
- The teeth may develop sensitivity to sweet, hot or cold food or drink. When a cavity becomes large this will usually cause pain & toothache (TRM page 21)
The ideal treatment for dental caries involves removing the decay using a compression drill and filling the cavity with dental material to restore the tooth. This treatment is both specialised and costly. One method which can be used when a compression drill is not available is Atraumatic Restorative Technique ART can be applied using hand instruments to remove decay.
Risks to Health
Behaviour – Diet – sugar rich foods, frequent snacking, and fizzy drinks
Behaviour – Hygiene – poor cleaning of teeth and gums, not enough fluoride
General health/immune system – stomach acid from vomiting, reflux or eating disorders
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