Dental Decay and Its Consequences
Dental decay, often dismissed as a mere cavity, can lead to many different dental issues. Globally, dental decay affects 2.3 billion people, making it one of the most common health issues. If decay is not addressed, a minor inconvenience can become a debilitating condition.
Decay – How Bad Can It Get?
Most of us are familiar with cavities, those small holes in teeth that result from bacteria. But, cavities are the tip of the iceberg. As the decay progresses, the cavity deepens and widens, reaching the inner pulp of the tooth. This can lead to painful toothaches and increased sensitivity.
If untreated, the infection can spread to the root of the tooth. The decay can abscess – a pocket of pus that's even more painful than a regular cavity. Abscesses not only affect oral health, but can spread to other parts of the body and cause major issues.
Often, when the damage is significant, fillings are no longer an option. This is because the tooth is not strong enough to keep a filling in place.
The Extraction Process for Decayed Teeth
The procedure for removing a decayed tooth is different than if the tooth was healthy. Decayed teeth are brittle, and the dentist needs to be careful to keep it from breaking.
Evaluation: An X-ray will often be taken to understand the extent of the decay and to plan the removal of the tooth.
Anesthesia: Local anesthesia is administered to numb the area.
Extraction: Due to the brittle nature of decayed teeth, they may break during removal. Special tools and techniques might be required to remove the entire tooth and roots.
Socket Cleaning: Once the tooth is out, the dentist will clean the socket to remove any infection.
Post-extraction Recovery: Special Considerations for Extractions Due to Decay
There may be some extra steps necessary to recover:
Antibiotics: The doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent any recurring infection.
Pain Management: Pain, swelling, and discomfort are common. Over-the-counter pain relievers and prescribed medications can help manage these symptoms.
Dietary Restrictions: Soft foods are recommended at first. Avoid hot, spicy foods and straws as they can disrupt the healing process.
Oral Hygiene: Gentle rinsing with warm salt water can help soothe the extraction site. Brush as usual, but avoid the extraction site for a few days.
Remember, your teeth play a very important role in your well-being. An infected tooth will not go away on its own and needs medical attention.