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A dental check up is really a very frightening experience for adults and children alike. All through childhood we have heard how important dental care is, how brushing and flossing is important, how regular check and filling of cavity is important, and so on. But most of this advice is generally ignored, and appointments of regular dental check dates are pushed back every month. That is until we feel something is 'not quite right' with the tooth. Before we get down to symptoms of a bad tooth, let us understand its causes.

Causes

A tooth is a calcified, white structure found in the jaw. A set of 32 teeth in adults is used to chew, bite, and scrape food. Tooth decay is caused by the bacteria found in the food that does not get washed out. This bacteria results in a sticky, slightly yellowish substance called plaque. More the bacteria, more the spread of plaque. It also produces acids when they come in contact with the sugars present in the food. As the acid destroys the tooth enamel and its mineral content, it results in cavity and decaying. It is the consumption of sugars that gets the acids to act within minutes of consumption, to set decay in the tooth.

Symptoms

Unless the cavity is exposed to very hot or cold foods, most people don't even realize that decay has set in. Once the decay gets infected, one may experience a toothache. A severe toothache results in earache, and for some, a splitting headache too. This pain gets further aggravated when one is eating sweets, hard food, cold, hot, or citrus food, and while brushing teeth.

An infected tooth sometimes cause bad breath. If it is the gums that have gotten infected, then the tooth may feel a little shaky, or even break in very tiny splinters. Yellow, brown, black spots may appear on the infected tooth. When the problem is left unattended, it can turn severe and form an abscess. An abscess generally accompanies a swollen jaw and glands and/or mild fever. The pus in the abscess can easily spread out from the root of the infected tooth to others. Build of plaque and tartar may cause a gum disease, resulting in loss of healthy teeth too.

Treatment

A diagnosis is made after a dental physical examination and study of the symptoms. However, if the decay is not visible or is too severe, the dentist may recommend an x-ray to asses the damage. The doctor may prescribe pain and swell-relieving medications to reduce inflammation of the gum. Anti bacterial mouth wash and toothpaste to inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth may also be prescribed. Cavity filling, placement of a crown, root canal treatment, or a surgery, where the tooth extraction is performed are all the different types of treatment that are followed depending upon the severity of the tooth decay.

There are some very easy ways to prevent this condition. Brush teeth twice a day with a good quality fluoride toothpaste, floss regularly, avoid sweetened snacks, and visit the dentist regularly, and take their advice very seriously. A few preventive measures can save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.