Tooth decay is also called cavities or caries and this happens when the hard surface of the teeth is permanently damaged and develops into tiny openings or holes.
This is caused by a combination of factors including the bacteria in your mouth, sipping sugary drinks, snacking all the time, and not cleaning your teeth well. The symptoms of the cavity vary as per the level of tooth decay.
Can You Treat Tooth Decay At Home? Can Decay Spread To Other Teeth?
If it is in its early stages then there will be mild pain and tooth sensitivity, but as the cavity progresses the symptoms also change and include sharp pain, visible holes or pits in your teeth, and staining of your teeth.
How Does It Affect You?
If tooth decay is neglected then they get larger and affect the deeper layers of the teeth. They lead to severe toothache, infection, and loss of the tooth. The sharp pain and discomfort prevent you from eating or drinking anything. In extreme cases, tooth decay can give you headaches and lead to pus formation in the mouth. This pain can also interfere with daily activities and affect your confidence as well.
Causes Of Tooth Decay
Cavities are caused by bacteria in the mouth that converts the sugar present in the food to acid which in turn corrodes the teeth. The bacteria that is known to cause cavities is called Streptococcus Mutants.
Once the damage of the acid corrodes the inner layers of the teeth after destroying the outer layers, then a cavity is formed. Infrequent brushing or flossing of the teeth, location of the tooth, frequent snacking and consumption of sugary drinks and food and not getting enough fluoride are some of the factors behind tooth decay.
Can You Treat It At Home?
To remineralize the enamel you can try chewing sugar-free gum after meals. This has proved effective in clinical trials. Initial studies also showed that it decreased the bacteria in the mouth.
Vitamin D has been known to strengthen bones and help absorb calcium and phosphate from the food you consume. This directly impacts your dental health and makes your teeth stronger and less susceptible to cavities. Studies have concluded that Vitamin D supplements help reduce tooth decay to a great extent.
Fluoride is a mineral that is found in water and added to toothpaste. Extensive research on fluoride has shown that it is very effective in preventing cavities and strengthening the teeth. Hence toothpaste makers add fluoride to their toothpaste and brushing regularly with fluoridated toothpaste prevents cavities.
Using licorice root researchers created a licorice lollipop and found it very effective in combating tooth decay. They were quite effective in reducing the bacteria Streptococcus Mutans in the mouth thereby leading to fewer cavities.
Oil pulling is another technique that helps in reducing tooth decay. In initial studies when participants swished cold-pressed coconut or sesame seed oil in their mouth for 15-20 minutes, they found that they were less susceptible to tooth decay.
Aloe Vera tooth gel has antibacterial properties that kill harmful bacteria in the mouth. It also helps in remineralizing the teeth thereby preventing cavities in the first place.
Avoid sugary drinks and food as it is the leading cause of cavities. The sugar present in the food mixes with the bacteria and forms acid which corrodes the teeth and wears down the tooth enamel.
Home remedies may work when the cavity is about to set in. Following the steps above can prevent future cavities. But it is best to visit a dentist regularly who will be able to guide you in having better oral hygiene and will be able to take effective measures when the tooth decay becomes worse.
All cavities do not cause pain and some cavities depend on the location of the tooth which home remedies cannot prevent from decaying. In such cases visiting a dentist is the best approach. Dentists can also detect cavities at the initial stages and guide you in taking preventive measures. They can provide other treatments as well such as filling the cavity or putting a crown for cases of advanced tooth decay.