Tooth decay is a destruction of the tooth enamel. It occurs when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) such as breads, milk, soda, raisins, cakes or candy are frequently left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth digest these foods, producing acids as a result. Over a period of time, these acids dissolve the tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay.
Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease
Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Because periodontal (gum) disease is usually painless, however, you may not know you have it.
Periodontal (gum) disease is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth. These bacteria create toxins that can damage the gums.
In the early stage of periodontal (gum) disease, called gingivitis, the gums can become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by daily brushing and flossing.
In the more advanced stages of periodontal (gum) disease, called periodontitis, the gums and bone that support the teeth can become seriously damaged. The teeth can become loose, fall out or have to be extracted.
An abscessed (infected) tooth is caused when the pulp tissue (the nerve and blood vessels) inside a tooth are diseased or injured and can't repair themselves. The most common cause of pulp death is a cracked tooth or a deep cavity. Both of these problems can let germs (bacteria) enter the pulp. Germs can cause an infection inside the tooth. Left without treatment the infection spread to the bone which surrounds the tooth. This type of infection can be very painful. A root canal is the procedure to treat this type of dental infection. The procedure involves removing the infected pulp from inside the tooth and sealing the tooth with a special filling material.
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