Sanker Ganesh Dental Hospital
Sanker Ganesh Dental Hospital

Author : Dr. Karthik Kannan. BDS, MDS

Specialized in Oral Medicine & Radiology.

Principal, Mar Baselios Dental College , Kothamangalam, Kerala.

Editor in chief kanyakumari dental journal, the official publication of Kanyakumari IDA branch.

National & Level Award winner for Paper presentation.

Dentistry is the branch of medicine that is involved in the study, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral cavity, maxillofacial area and the adjacent and associated structures and their impact on the human body. Dentistry is widely considered necessary for complete overall health. Doctors who practice dentistry, are known as dentists. The majority of dental treatments are carried out to prevent or treat the two most common oral diseases which are dental caries (tooth decay) and periodontal disease (gum disease or pyorrhea).

What are dental caries?

Dental caries, often called cavities, are erosions of the surface of the tooth caused by the combined effects of bacteria, acids, plaque and tartar. Dental caries are common in both children and adults, and they occur most often as a result of poor dental hygiene. Dental caries are usually painless at first, but they may become painful if they spread to the nerve or root of a tooth. Left untreated, dental caries can progress to a tooth abscess, which is a more painful and potentially serious condition.Dental caries are common, but they can often be prevented by practicing good dental hygiene, including regular brushing and flossing. Dental caries usually do not require emergency medical care unless they become painful, do not respond to over-the-counter pain relievers, or progress to a tooth abscess. Treatment includes removing the decayed material with a drill and filling in the resulting hole with a stable dental material.

What are the symptoms of dental caries?

Generally, you will not experience any serious symptoms from dental caries. When symptoms are present, they may include toothache or sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages.

What causes dental caries?

Dental caries are caused by bacteria and damaging substances, such as acid, that come into contact with your teeth. After you eat, normal bacteria in your mouth combine with food remnants and acids to create a sticky film called plaque. If you do not remove plaque regularly by flossing and brushing, it can build up or harden into a substance known as tartar. Plaque and tartar, in addition to bacteria and acids, can degrade the enamel on your tooth, leading to holes in the enamel called dental caries, or cavities. Dental caries usually begin as small, shallow holes.

How are dental caries treated?

Prompt treatment of dental caries by your dentist is important in preventing further damage to your tooth or an infection. A simple dental examination can identify dental caries, and an X-ray may help your dentist to determine the extent of the caries. Dental caries are typically painless, but a larger or deeper area of destruction in the tooth may be painful. In addition to medications, dental work is necessary to fill the cavity. Your dentist will begin by numbing your mouth with a local anesthetic. After your tooth is numb, your dentist will use a drill to clean out the area of decay and shape the surrounding tooth to allow it to be filled in smoothly with replacement materials. More severe caries may require more extensive dental work, including a root canal treatment or tooth extraction.

Gum Disease

Gingivitis - The beginning stage of gum disease and is often undetected. This stage of the disease is reversible.

Periodontitis - Untreated gingivitis may lead to this next stage of gum disease. With many levels of periodontitis, the common outcome is chronic inflammatory response, a condition when the body breaks down the bone and tissue in the infected area of the mouth, ultimately resulting in tooth and bone loss.

Signs of Gum Disease Include:

• Red, bleeding, and/or swollen gums

• Bad breath

• Mobility of the teeth

• Tooth sensitivity caused by receding gums

• Abscessed teeth

• Tooth loss

Recent studies suggest gum disease may contribute to or be warning signs of potentially life threatening conditions such as:

Heart Disease and Stroke - Studies suggest gingivitis may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke because of the high levels of bacteria found in infected areas of the mouth. As the level of periodontal disease increases, the risk of cardiovascular disease may increase with it. Other studies have suggested that the inflammation in the gums may create a chronic inflammation response in other parts of the body which has also been implicated in increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Diabetes - People with diabetes often have some form of gum disease, likely caused by high blood glucose, according to the CDC ( centre for disease control). People with diabetes need to take extra care to ensure proper brushing and flossing techniques are used to prevent the advancement of the gum disease. Regular check-ups and cleanings with your dental hygienist should be followed.

Chronic Kidney Disease - A study, conducted by Case Western Reserve University, suggests that people without any natural teeth, known as edentulous, are more likely to have chronic kidney disease (CKD), than people with natural teeth. CKD affects blood pressure potentially causing heart disease, contributed to kidney failure, and affects bone health.

Preterm Birth - Babies that are born premature -- before 37 weeks of gestation -- may face numerous health complications. Research indicates that women with periodontal disease are three to five times more likely to have a baby born preterm compared to women without any form of gum disease. Women are more susceptible to gingivitis when pregnant and should follow their regular brushing habits, and continue with dental cleanings and examinations.

Treatments for Gum Disease

Depending on the type of gum disease, some of the available treatment options are:

Removal of plaque and calculus by way of scaling done by your dental hygienist or dentist.

Medications such as chlorhexidine gluconate, a mouth rinse prescribed by your dentist or hygienist to help kill the bacteria in your mouth, along with frequent cleanings.

Surgery may be necessary in certain cases to stop, halt, or minimize the progression of periodontal disease. Surgery is also used to replace bone that was lost in advanced stages of the disease.
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