A tooth consists of two parts, the crown, which is the part of the tooth above the gum line, and the root which is the part of the tooth below the gum line. It is composed of dentin, pulp, cementum and enamel. Enamel, dentin and cementum are mineralized tissues, thereby being susceptible to action by acids. Outermost layer of the crown is called enamel, this is the protective material of the tooth and also the hardest material in the human body. The underlying layer below the enamel is made of a substance known as dentin. At the center of the tooth is the pulp which consists of blood vessels and nerves. Cementum covers the root of the tooth.
Teeth are an important part of our skeletal system. The beginning of food digestion takes place in the mouth where the teeth help in breaking down food and mixing it with saliva. Teeth give shape to the jaw and also help in talking. Therefore, rotting teeth can interfere with these functions making eating and speaking difficult, causing pain and infection as well as destruction of the tooth. These can cause problems as the teeth are visible structures, and damaged and decayed teeth are unsightly and not a pretty sight.
The human mouth is home to many bacteria, which are responsible for dental caries. Bacteria feed on the starch and sugar in the food that we consume and release acids that act on the teeth. These bacteria are deposited on the surface of the teeth forming a film that is known as plaque. This film is deposited constantly on the teeth and needs to be removed. Brushing the teeth regularly at least twice a day, or after every meal is necessary to remove the plaque. You can also consider using a mouth rinse and flossing regularly to maintain good oral hygiene. Plaque hardens if not removed periodically and forms a hard substance known as tartar. If we allow plaque and tartar to build up, acids act on the teeth and cause demineralization of the enamel and other tissues which lead to cavities and dental caries. It can also lead to gum disease.
Tooth decay or dental caries all refer to the same concept. Any damage, holes or cavities in the teeth are due to acid which acts on the layers of the teeth. These cavities can penetrate through the enamel and dentin to the sensitive pulp.
Rotting teeth in children can be another common health problem. Tooth decay in children and young adults is common, largely due to sugar in the diet and poor dental care. Young children have milk teeth which have a thinner coating of enamel than permanent teeth. Furthermore, they may be more accustomed to eating sugary food. Also, since children initially have milk teeth which are not permanent, damage to these teeth may not be taken seriously by parents.
Tooth decay and rotting teeth may be indicative of other diseases. Some studies also show that bacteria involved in dental plaque, can cause blood clots when they enter the blood stream. This could lead to heart attacks.
Another issue which can cause problems and perhaps embarrassment is bad breath, also known as halitosis. Most common source of halitosis is the bacteria that are present in the mouth, throat and tonsils. Sometimes some foods that we eat can cause bad breath.Tooth decay is also an obvious cause of halitosis, which results from the smell of rotting teeth. Also, infections and gum diseases such as gingivitis cause bad breath.
One way of treating tooth decay is to have the cavities filled in by a dentist. In case the damage is more extensive, the dentist may have to cap the tooth, do a root canal treatment or extract the tooth all together. For these procedures special tools are used, including a dental drill that allows the dentist to take out the damaged portion of the tooth.
Ultimately the best way to avoid tooth decay is to maintain a good dental hygiene and reduce sugary and starchy foods. Given below are some daily dental care tips that will help to promote good dental health.
- Brushing the teeth at least twice a day, preferably after every meal.
- Flossing regularly, thereby getting plaque out of places where the toothbrush cannot reach.
- Cutting down on sugary and starchy foods and snacks, especially sticky ones.
- Visiting a dental health care provider every six months.