Dentists consider dental caries as a major oral health problem. It affects 18.6 percent of children and teenagers, and 31.6 percent of adults between 20 and 24 years old, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It adds that 91 percent of Americans over the age of 20 have had caries at one point in their lives.
The impact of dental caries on oral health depends on how early a patient detects caries and seeks treatment. If left untreated, it fosters bacterial growth and hastens tooth decay. Several dental and health conditions can also result from caries.
There’s Nothing Simple about Cavities
Cavities are a silent epidemic. They often start in the molars, which are out of sight. Unless they develop in anterior teeth, you may not notice them immediately. They’re not painful, too — at least not at the beginning. As a result, most adults don’t realize they have tooth decay until after the cavity has reached the nerves of their teeth.
What starts as a simple toothache can escalate to infection. The detrimental effects of cavities can snowball quickly from that point.
Gums are vulnerable to bacteria and infection. As a result, they swell, especially the tissues surrounding the sore tooth. In severe cases, abscess forms in the pulpy area of the tooth down to the gum. You’ll know you have an abscessed tooth if there’s a persistent bad taste in your mouth and you develop bad breath.
The pain due to cavity infection is like no other; if you experience it, you won’t take the idea of having more cavities too lightly again.
Apart from the pain and discomfort, cavities can result in more serious dental conditions.
The Worst-Case Scenarios
Tooth loss is the inevitable outcome of severe tooth decay. Bacteria eat its way through enamel and dentin, leaving pockets that trap food particles and promote further bacterial growth. If left untreated, the affected tooth can weaken and break apart.
Infection and abscess can also affect jawbone density and strength. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center says bacteria and the body’s immune system can weaken the bone, break connective tissues, and reduce the alveolar bone mineral density.
But jawbone deterioration is not the worst possible outcome of dental caries. Experts suggest that, given the proximity of the mouth to the brain, it’s possible for blood vessels to carry the infection to the latter. Meningitis due to caries, therefore, isn’t a scare tactic for you to maintain good oral hygiene habits. It’s a legitimate possibility when you let your dental health suffer.
Always Aim for Prevention
We always strive to save your tooth at Gio Dental at Station Landing; but, if you have severe tooth decay, we may have to remove it as a last resort. Rest assured we can replace the missing tooth through dental implant surgery at our clinic in Medford.
It’s illogical to wait for dental caries to escalate and cause infection and decay, but more so to allow them to develop in the first place. Although treatments are available, it’s best to avoid them entirely. And like most dental problems, the best defense against dental caries is good oral hygiene and regular visits to your dentist.
Schedule an appointment with Gio Dental at Station Landing. Our Medford dentists will guide you through caries prevention and treatment.