Dental caries: types, causes and approaches to treatment

Caries is the # 1 enemy for dental health. The main danger of caries is not holes in the teeth. It is precisely the caries not cured in time that in most cases leads to the loss of teeth in adults. This problem has existed, perhaps, as long as people live on Earth. Scientists have found caries on teeth in the remains of people who lived 14 thousand years ago. If in ancient times medicine was at a primitive level, then modern dentistry can offer various highly effective, safe methods of caries treatment, which we will talk about in this article.

But first things first…

Causes of dental caries

To understand how caries appears and develops, you need to know what a tooth consists of. The main building material of teeth is dentin. From above it is covered with durable enamel, which protects the dentin from external factors.

Bacteria are the culprits of carious tooth decay. Or rather, their waste products, which contain organic acids. Under the action of acid, the enamel of the teeth gradually weakens and begins to disintegrate, cavities appear in it, through which caries penetrates into the internal tissues of the teeth and destroys dentin, forming a carious cavity.

Causal factors that increase the risk of developing tooth decay:

  • insufficient hygiene for the oral cavity;
  • deficiency in the body of minerals and vitamins involved in the construction of hard tissues of teeth (calcium, fluoride, phosphorus, vitamin C, etc.);
  • the predominance of soft foods, carbohydrates in the diet;
  • the presence of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract;
  • systemic diseases (diabetes mellitus, metabolic, hormonal disorders);
  • weakened immunity;
  • bad habits;
  • bite defects that create an obstacle to effective hygiene;
  • genetic factor;
  • mechanical damage to the enamel.

Types of caries

There are 2 types of caries, depending on the course of the process:

  • acute;
  • chronic.

There is a classification of caries according to the localization of the cavities. Using this criterion, the following types of processes can be distinguished:

  • Fissure is one of the most common types of caries. The infection develops in the depressions of the contact surface of the chewing teeth, where food debris usually accumulates.
  • Caries between teeth (lateral surfaces) – with this type of caries, two adjacent teeth are often affected at once. The likelihood of interdental caries is high, since it is rather difficult to carry out high-quality hygiene in the interdental spaces.
  • Cervical caries – bacteria attack the tooth at the base along the border with the gum on the buccal or lingual side.
  • Tooth root caries is less common than other types of caries, it affects hard tissues deep under the gum, therefore it is rarely diagnosed with a simple visual examination, requires hardware diagnostics.

There is also secondary caries – it develops in a tooth that has been previously treated and filled, usually the infection begins to develop under the filling.

Symptoms and stages of caries

The overwhelming majority of patients in whom a doctor diagnoses caries at an appointment did not even suspect that there was a problem. The infection can develop asymptomatically for several months or even years, it can go from an acute stage to a chronic one and lead to serious complications.

Not only the effectiveness of treatment depends on a timely visit to the clinic, but also the chances of keeping the tooth alive, healthy, and in some cases avoiding removal. To reduce the risks to dental health, you need to understand how caries develops and by what signs it can be recognized.

Disease stages

Caries has several stages, corresponding to the area of enamel damage:

  • 1
    Initial caries, caries in the spot stage or, as it is also called “white caries”. At this stage, a matte light spot is formed on the enamel surface at the place of enamel demineralization. Over time, the process can go from an acute form to a chronic one and pause for a while, the stain becomes dark.
  • 2
    Superficial caries. The suspension of acute processes at the stage of the spot does not mean that the infection has receded. Over time, in the area where the stain has formed, roughness appears, which indicates the active phase of the carious process, the destruction of the enamel begins.
  • 3
    Medium caries. This is the stage when the infection attacks and begins to destroy the dentin tissue. For each patient, the process proceeds individually – for someone it is imperceptible, and for someone already at this stage, the sensitivity of the teeth increases, discomfort and pain appear.
  • 4
    Deep caries. A large carious cavity forms inside the tooth, the infection affects most of the dentin, gets very close to the pulp, or even provokes inflammation of the pulp bundle.

How does dental caries manifest?

Caries at the initial stage proceeds without any symptoms. It is very difficult to diagnose it on your own, but an experienced specialist using modern diagnostic equipment can detect signs of pathology at any stage, even at the stage of the appearance of a spot without damaging the enamel.

However, we will talk about the symptoms by which the patient himself can recognize caries on the teeth:

  • discomfort, pain when cold, hot food hits the tooth, when eating sweet, sour foods;
  • the tongue feels the roughness of the enamel;
  • the appearance of a white or dark rough rim in the root area of the tooth;
  • the appearance on the enamel of white or dark spots, black dots.

If flossing or tearing when flossing is used, this could be a sign of a carious process on the lateral surface of the tooth. If you notice any of the above symptoms, you should make an appointment with a dentist.

Caries in children

You’ve probably seen black teeth in children. The main reason for this phenomenon is caries. Children’s teeth, especially milk teeth, are even more prone to caries than teeth of adults. This is due to the insufficient strength of the tooth enamel (the process of formation of dental tissues has not yet been completed), with the peculiarities of nutrition, weak immunity in children before colds, infectious diseases.

Caries on milk teeth develops rapidly and very quickly leads to the destruction of hard tissues. Due to the absence of symptoms and the rapid spread of the infection, it is not uncommon for parents to bring the baby to the dentist when children’s teeth are already in a state of advanced caries. It happens that the defeat of caries occurs even before the milk tooth is completely erupted.

In pediatric dentistry, different methods of caries prevention and treatment are used: fissure sealing, remineralizing therapy and the classic method of filling milk teeth in children.

Important! Taking care of dental health begins from early childhood – from the moment when the first tooth appears in the baby’s mouth. Parents should carefully monitor the state of the child’s oral cavity, regularly bring the baby to the dentist for examination. Regular visits to the dental clinic will allow diagnosing caries and the prerequisites for the development of the process before it destroys the child’s teeth.

Circular caries

One of the types of caries is a circular lesion of the teeth. This type of pathology is called circular caries and has its own characteristics:

  • damage along the entire circumference of the tooth on the border with the gum (in the cervical area);
  • the rapid spread of infection (from the moment of damage to the enamel in one area to the expansion of the focus of caries along the entire circumference of the tooth, it may take only a few days);
  • considering that circular caries destroys tissue at the base of the teeth, there is a high risk that the crown will break off at this point;
  • incisors are destroyed especially quickly.

The localization of defects in circular caries, as well as the asymptomatic course of the process, complicate the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. And in this case, you need the help of a dentist.

Why is it necessary to treat milk teeth?

Milk teeth are temporary, but without them the correct functioning of the digestive system, the development of speech in a child, the formation of a correct bite and the development of the entire dentoalveolar system are impossible.

A child needs milk teeth to:

  • chew food well, which is very important for its digestion and absorption, for normal digestion;
  • learn the correct pronunciation – teeth, like the tongue, lips, are part of the articulatory apparatus and help the child to pronounce sounds correctly, and with early loss of milk teeth, children develop speech defects that will be difficult to correct in an older age;
  • the jaw developed correctly, the correct bite was formed – with the premature loss of temporary teeth, there are violations in the development of the dentoalveolar apparatus, a high probability of abnormal growth of permanent teeth, the occurrence of bite defects;
  • in order to protect the rudiments of permanent teeth from infection – in the absence of timely treatment, various complications of caries develop, in which the roots of milk teeth and even periodontal tissue are affected, which can lead to damage to permanent teeth even before they erupt.

The task of parents and dentists is to keep milk teeth not only intact, but also healthy until the time comes for their natural replacement with permanent teeth. To accomplish this task, it is necessary to provide the baby with thorough oral hygiene, timely diagnosis and treatment of caries in milk teeth. An attentive doctor will prescribe preventive treatments if necessary to further protect your teeth from infection.

Caries treatment at Amel Dental

Amel Dental is the only clinic in Ukraine that received international accreditation and entered the rating of the best clinics in the world according to the Global Clinic Rating. We use the best achievements of medicine and modern dentistry, the most effective methods of prevention and treatment of dental caries in Dnipro. In any situation, we strive to keep teeth intact and healthy, therefore we pay special attention to the prevention of oral cavity diseases, actively practice methods of non-invasive treatment of caries.

What is conservative dental caries treatment?

Conservative therapy means a treatment technology in which the doctor does not use a drill, that is, the tooth and tooth enamel are not mechanically processed. Conservative therapy is used at the initial stage of caries (at the stage of stains).

Amel Dental uses the most progressive method of conservative treatment – ICON infiltration method. The essence of this method is to protect the weakened areas of the enamel from the penetration of destructive organic acids by applying a special synthetic gel. This method is aesthetic, completely painless, atraumatic, suitable for the treatment of caries at the stage of stains in children from 3 years of age.

Stages of caries treatment

The procedure for treating caries using the “Aikon” method is carried out in several stages:

  • 1
    Installation of a rubber dam to isolate the tooth.
  • 2
    Tooth cleaning with a special Icon-Etch disinfecting paste, which is safe for tooth enamel.
  • 3
    Drying the enamel.
  • 4
    Application to the affected area with Icon-Infiltrant gel.

It takes a few minutes for the gel to stabilize. It creates a kind of protective shield on the enamel, which prevents the penetration of caries.

High-quality dental filling in Dnipro is a classic method of caries treatment (with tooth preparation). Stages:

  • 1
    Local anesthesia – if necessary.
  • 2
    Enamel preparation.
  • 3
    Removal of tissue affected by infection.
  • 4
    Formation of a cavity for further filling.
  • 5
    Installation of a medical tab.
  • 6
  • 7
    Finishing work – giving the filling an anatomical shape, smoothness.

Possible complications of caries

Contrary to the recommendations of dentists, many patients ignore routine preventive examinations and make an appointment at the dental clinic when their teeth begin to bother.

In the best case, it turns out to be deep caries, but unfortunately, doctors often have to deal not only with caries, but with its complications:

  • Pulpitis is an inflammation of the pulp (the neurovascular bundle feeding the tooth, located deep in the tooth), painful, leading to the death of the nerve.
  • Periodontitis – inflammation of the periodontal tissues (surrounding the tooth root), is a consequence of untreated pulpitis, can proceed in acute and chronic form, provoke the formation of a fistula, and negatively affect the general condition of the body (increased temperature, leukocyte levels in the blood, ESR).
  • Destruction of bone tissue is a purulent focus of infection, formed at the apex of the tooth root.
  • Periostitis is the spread of infection into bone tissue. It leads to the destruction of bone, can cause such dangerous conditions as abscess, sepsis.

The longer the patient delays to visit the dentist with caries symptoms, the more harm the infection will cause to dental health. Removal of caries is often the result of untreated caries. Do not forget that any inflammatory processes in the oral cavity have a negative effect on the entire body, in particular on the functioning of the nervous, cardiovascular, digestive systems, and kidneys.

3 easy ways to get rid of caries at home

So that you are not promised by “competent sources” on the Internet, it is impossible to cure caries at home with folk or even pharmaceutical remedies.

The only thing you can do is to prevent or suspend the pathological process at the initial stage using the following methods:

  • a diet rich in calcium;
  • brushing your teeth with a toothpaste recommended by a dentist;
  • rinsing with sage decoction, which has an antiseptic effect.

And the most important thing is the control of the condition of the teeth and professional cleaning in the dental clinic every 3 months.

Caries prevention

The importance of prevention is proved by statistics: a properly selected program of preventive measures reduces the likelihood of developing caries in children by 80%, and in almost 100% of cases, it helps adults to avoid tooth extraction due to caries.

Prevention helps:

  • keep teeth healthy;
  • prevent tooth decay from carious infection;
  • save money on caries treatment (prevention is cheaper than treatment of advanced caries, its complications, and even more so, cheaper than prosthetics in case of tooth decay and loss).

Prevention in dentistry:

  • professional hygiene;
  • fissure sealing;
  • remineralization of enamel.

General methods of caries prevention:

  • balanced nutrition rich in vitamins and microelements;
  • inclusion of solid foods (carrots, hard apples) in the diet;
  • thorough chewing of food, especially during the period of changing teeth in children;
  • a healthy lifestyle, physical activity – help to strengthen the immune system, and therefore increase resistance to pathogenic bacteria;
  • elimination of any stress factors (psychological, environmental, etc.) that can weaken the immune system;
  • exclusion from the diet or minimizing the use of sweets, especially carbonated drinks, toffee, candies, sweet pastries;
  • regular visits to the dentist for a preventive examination; proper oral hygiene.

How to take care of your teeth so that there is no caries?

Dentists’ recommendations:

  • brushing your teeth every morning and before going to bed, the duration of the procedure should be at least 2 minutes;
  • use of dental floss, brushes for cleaning and removing food debris in narrow interdental spaces;
  • using a toothbrush and toothpaste suitable for hygiene of your teeth and gums – your dentist will tell you how to choose good products and accessories;
  • rinsing the mouth after each meal, snack;
  • professional teeth cleaning in dentistry every 3 months.