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Tooth decay and cavities are among the world's most common oral health problems and half the world's population suffer from it. Most often these tooth problems are seen in children, teenagers and older adults.
What Causes Cavities?
Dental cavities are damaged areas that eventually become holes inside the teeth caused by the bacteria Streptococcus mutans. It survives on the surface of the teeth creating acid out of sugar from foods. A build-up of foods and bacteria form plaque which causes destruction to the tooth enamel, leading to tooth erosion. This erosion causes holes in between the teeth, around teeth fillings which are chipped and close to the gums.
Cavities also occur due to the lack of dental hygiene, foods that stick to your teeth, frequent snacking, dry mouth, etc.
Symptoms Of Cavities
The most common symptoms of tooth decay and cavities are toothache, tooth sensitivity, mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking, etc.
Complications Of Cavities
• Tooth abscess
• Constant tooth pain
• Difficulty in chewing solid food
• Risk of breaking or chipping a tooth
• Formation of pus around the infected tooth
Diagnosis Of Cavities
The dentist will first examine your mouth and teeth, ask about the ongoing tooth pain and sensitivity, and conduct an X-ray that will show the extent of cavities and tooth decay.
Treatment Of Cavities
• Tooth fillings are the primary treatment option when tooth decay has progressed. Fillings are done of various materials like porcelain, silver, gold or tooth-coloured composite resins.
• Fluoride treatments restore the tooth's enamel and prevent the progression of cavities. Fluoride treatments can be in liquid, foam, gel or varnish form that's brushed onto the teeth.
• Root canals are done when the erosion reaches the inner part of the tooth. This treatment option is for repairing a badly damaged infected tooth.
• Crown is a custom-fitted covering that replaces the tooth's entire natural crown. Crowns are made of resin, porcelain, gold or other materials.
• Tooth extraction is the removal of the decayed tooth. It is done in case a tooth which has been severely damaged or decayed that can't be restored.
Home Remedies to get rid of Cavities
Clove is used for treating any kind of dental issue, including cavities. It contains a chemical called eugenol which has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antibacterial properties, that can help alleviate pain and prevent the cavity from spreading.
• Gently chew a clove to extract its oil. Then keep the clove under your tongue for several minutes.
Salt is excellent when it comes to treating cavities due to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It can reduce inflammation, ease the pain, and prevent the growth of bacteria in the mouth.
• Mix 1 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water.
• Swish this solution in your mouth for 1 minute.
• Do this 3 times a day until your symptoms subside.
Garlic contains a natural compound called allicin which has antibacterial, antimicrobial and antibiotic properties. It is responsible for treating tooth decay and cavities. In addition, the antifungal and antibacterial properties of garlic helps to remove microbes and deal with pain.
• Crush 3 to 4 garlic cloves and ¼ teaspoon of rock salt.
• Apply it on the infected tooth.
• Leave it on for 10 minutes and rinse.
• Do this twice daily.
Licorice root may help keep your teeth healthy and can prevent the growth of cavity-causing bacteria. The licorice root contains natural plant chemicals and a compound called trans-chalone which blocks the action of a key enzyme Sortase A. This enzyme allows the bacteria to thrive in oral cavities.
• Use dried licorice root powder to brush your teeth daily.
Turmeric contains a natural chemical called curcumin which exhibits antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties and antimicrobial properties. The antimicrobial activity of curcumin inhibits the activity of the enzyme Sortase A which help the bacteria Streptococcus mutans to thrive.
• Apply some turmeric powder on the affected teeth.
• Leave it on for a few minutes.
Neem is another effective home remedy for treating dental caries. The antimicrobial properties of neem twigs are effective against microorganisms like Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus mitis, Streptococcus sanguis, and Streptococcus salivarius.
• Chew the neem twigs for a few minutes and rinse.
• Do this twice daily.
Triphala is a herbal concoction consisting of amla, bibhitaki and haritaki. Since ancient times, it has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for treating a wide range of health problems ranging from dental caries to stomach ailments.
• Mix 2 teaspoons of triphala powder with 1 teaspoon of honey to form a paste. Apply it on the cavities for a few minutes and wash off.
The antibacterial properties present in nutmeg extract help prevent cavities and tooth decay caused by cariogenic bacteria Streptococcus mutans. Nutmeg is also effective against other oral microorganisms like Streptococcus sanguis, Streptococcus salivarius, Streptococcus sobrinus, etc.
• Apply nutmeg oil directly on your teeth using cotton swabs.
• Keep it on for a few minutes and rinse your mouth.
The antibacterial properties of wheatgrass help fight tooth decay and cavities. Wheatgrass eliminates the toxins and bacteria from the gums and control bacterial growth.
• Drink ½ glass of wheatgrass juice daily on an empty stomach.
• Or, you can chew ½ cup of wheatgrass.
10. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil can keep your teeth and gums healthy due to its strong antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antimicrobial properties.
• Massage your teeth and gums with a few drops of tea tree oil. Rinse with warm water.
11. Aloe vera
The antibacterial effect of aloe vera help kill the bacteria in the mouth according to a study. The aloe vera plant contains depurative properties which are useful in preventing cavities and tartar. Also, the anthraquinones present in aloe vera pulp combat the bacteria present in the teeth.
• Gargle your mouth with ¼ cup of aloe vera juice and swish it around your mouth for a few minutes.
• Do this twice daily.
Tea contains nearly 4000 bioactive compounds of which one third is contributed to polyphenols. It possesses significant anticariogenic properties and catechins, especially green tea. Extracts of green tea inhibit the growth of bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus salivarius and Escherichia coli.
• Brew a cup of green tea, add honey and drink it twice a day.
13. Sugar-free gum
Sugar-free gum contains xylitol which is known to reduce Streptococcus mutans bacteria, raise plaque pH and stimulate saliva flow. Also, another type of sugar-free gum contains a compound called casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate (CPP-ACP) which is effective in reducing the bacterial growth.
According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, coffee might help prevent cavities. Coffee made from roasted coffee beans has antibacterial effects against microorganisms including Streptococcus mutans.
• Drink black coffee with honey without adding milk.
Eggshells treat cavities and remineralize your teeth with essential minerals. Eggshells contain calcium carbonate which replaces the mineral in the tooth enamel and makes it strong.
• Clean the eggshells with water and boil them for 5 minutes.
• Dry the shells and grind them into a powder.
• Take some of it, mix it with coconut oil and use it as a toothpaste.
16. Oil pulling
Oil pulling involves swishing a tablespoon of sesame oil, coconut oil or mustard oil around the mouth for a few minutes and spitting it out. This method is known to promote oral health. A study shows that sesame oil used in oil pulling reduce the amount of plaque and bacteria formation in the teeth. And another study showed the effectiveness of coconut oil pulling against Streptococcus mutans.
Tips To Prevent Cavities
• Brush twice a day regularly with a fluoride toothpaste.
• Floss once a day.
• Consume fibre-rich fruits and vegetables and calcium-rich foods.
• Limit snacking between meals.
• Rinse your mouth after finishing your meal.
• Cut down on sugary and acidic foods like candies, sweets, refined carbohydrates, soda and juice.
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