Dental caries is basically a term used for tooth decay and cavities. These caries are formed due to certain types of bacteria damaging the tooth enamel (the outermost layer of the teeth) and dentin (the layer beneath enamel).
It would be worth mentioning here that mouth is the home to several types of bacteria. Some are good while some are bad. The accumulation of bad bacteria on the teeth results in the formation of a soft film which is called dental plaque. The plaque also contains saliva and particles of foods. It forms in several areas including pits and fissures in the back teeth, interdental areas, around dental fillings, and near the gum line.
The main job of bacteria present in the plaque is to turn the sugar and carbohydrates into acid which dissolves the minerals in tooth enamel. This dissolving of enamel results in the development of holes in the tooth enamel. While these holes may not be quite visible in the first sight, they get larger with the passage of time.
These holes can be deep enough to give acid the access to dentin. When acids seep through these holes to the inner layers, the damage to the tooth can be quite devastating. Consistent production of bacteria and nonstop interaction between the layers of teeth and acid can result in the acids and bacteria reaching the innermost layer of the tooth. This layer is called pulp which consists of active nerves and vessels. Any infection to this area is not only highly painful but it can also result in the infection reaching jawbone and other areas of the jaw.
Early signs of decay are not usually visible. However, an advanced decay can result in hypersensitivity of the teeth.
You may not be able to see the cavities with you naked eye but your dentist surely knows about the signs of tooth decay even in the very first stages. The diagnosis mainly involves use of a tool which is called explorer. The major problem with explorer is that it can puncture the tooth enamel when too much of the force is applied.
Another way of diagnosing cavities is the dental x-rays test. Whether it is a newly formed decay between the teeth or it is an advanced decay, dental x-rays test can help the dentist to know the exact status.
Duration of caries
If it is the new formed caries on your teeth, you can go for the early treatment to get the caries reversed. However, advanced caries will require advanced treatment. For this purpose, you can visit the dentist and discuss the treatment options.
Remember, leaving the problem untreated can lead to the caries getting severer, ultimately resulting in the need for root canal and/or tooth extraction.
The best way to deal with the dental caries is none other than effective prevention. First of all, you have to make sure that you are taking good care of your oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth twice in every day and flossing for at least once in a day are very important. Moreover, you need to visit the dentist biannually to stay away from the trouble.