Fotek (2012) noted that tooth decay, which is also called dental caries or dental cavities, is a source of infection, causing the loss of mineral salts and devastation of the hard tissues such as enamel, dentin and cementum. It is a result of the bacterial fermentation of the food. If it is untreated, it’ll lead to pain. Nowadays, tooth decay is remain one of the most popular health problems all over the world. In fact, everyone can easily have problems with tooth decay but children are at the highest risk.
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Tooth decay has its own long history. University of Illinois (n.d) recommends that over a million years ago, hominid like Australopithecus suffered from cavities. Some evidences found by Archaeologies show that tooth decay is an ancient disease in prehistorically period (University of Illinois n.d). Evidence such as skulls which are excavated through the neolithic period gives signs of caries (University of Illinois). Richards (2002, p.1275) suggests that in South Asia, the growth in caries is related to the rice cultivation. From 5000 BC, Sumerian considered ”tooth worm” as the cause of tooth decay. The proof of this belief has been found in some Asian countries such as India, Egypt, Japan and China (Richards & Norman 1990). A report in the NBC News (4 May 2006) revealed that in Pakistan, a 7000-year-old teeth show nearly perfect the holes from primitive dental drills. Thus, this paper, with the purpose to help people know more about tooth decay and learn how to prevent it.
2. Discussion of findings
2.1. The signs and symptoms of tooth decay
A recent study by Health Promotion Board shows that : ‘A person experiencing caries may not be aware of the disease’. The visual aspect of a chalky white place in the surface of tooth is the earliest mark of a new carious lesion, showing an area of demineralization of enamel (King 2011). As the wound continues to demineralization, it can turn brown but finally will turn into cavity (Clake n.d). In ‘Dental Cavities’ (2012) continues when the tooth enamel and dentine are destroyed, the tooth decay becomes noticeable, the affected area of tooth also becomes vulnerable. Moreover, once the decay passes through enamel and reach to the nerve of the tooth will result in a toothache. Bad breath and foul tastes are also the consequences of dental caries (Clake n.d).
2.2. Causes of tooth decay
There are four main reasons for tooth decay organization: teeth, bacteria, fermentable carbohydrates and time. Smith, B. & Pickard, H. M. (1990) states that the caries process does not have an unavoidable result and different people will have different degrees basing on the form of their teeth, oral hygiene habits, and the content of their saliva.
The first reason that Neville (2002, p.89) stated is that teeth are affected by many diseases that can leave an individual at a great risk for caries. He also said that Amelogenesis imperfect, which occurs between 1 in 718 and 1 in 1,400 individuals, is a disease that the enamel does not form in full or forms in deficient amounts that can fall off a tooth. Therefore, teeth may be more vulnerable because the enamel is not able to protect the tooth in both cases (Neville, p.94). The cause of tooth decay by disease affecting the teeth is not the main reason in almost people. Cate (1998, p.1) indicated that: ‘Ninety-six percent of tooth enamel is composed of minerals’ and when let out to the acidic environment, these minerals will become soluble. Once root surface of teeth are exposed, cavities can develop easily even in a healthy oral environment.
Moving on to the next point, bacteria are present in mouth to change over the sugars and amylum into acids (Priya Johnson 2012). A substance called plaque in the mouth is the combination of bacteria, acid and saliva (Johnson 2012). This compound is sticky and cling itself to the teeth, especially on the surface of grinders and at the edges of teeth fillings (Johnson 2012). Plaque compile within 20 minutes after eating, the time when most bacteria action starts (Johnson 2012). In addition, the more food is consumed, the more plaque is formed (Johnson 2012).
The third reason referred to the fermentable carbohydrates. Bacteria in a person’s mouth convert glucose, fructose into acids like lactic acid via a process called fermentation, when contacting with the tooth, these may cause demineralization (Neville 2002). Fluoride toothpaste can help demineralization (Silverstone 1983). An amount of mineral content may be lost if demineralization keeps continuing so that forming a hole (Madigan & Martinko p.705). The impact like sugars has on the process of tooth decay named carcinogenicity (Madigan & Martinko p.705).
According to British Nutrition Foundation (2004), the oftenness that teeth are exposed to acidic environments affected the likeliness of caries evolution. UCLASD (2006) suggested that after meals, the bacteria in the mouth metabolize sugar that decreases pHs As time goes by, the pH returns normal due to the capacity of saliva and the faded mineral content of tooth surface (UCLASD 2006). During every exposure to the acidic environment, part of inorganic mineral content at the teeth surface can remain dissolved for 2 hours (UCLASD 2006). If the diet is rich in carbohydrates, the carious process can start within days of the tooth erupting into the mouth (UCLASD 2006). Summit (2001, p.75) suggests that the introduction of fluoride treatments can slow down the process. Proximal caries take four years to pass through enamel in permanent teeth because the cementum enclosing the root surface is not as long-lasting as the enamel, root caries attended to progress more rapidly than on other surfaces (Summit 2001).
2.3. How to prevent tooth decay?
Everyone wishes they had beautiful teeth but they do not know how to protect their teeth. Keeping cleaning outside and inside teeth is essential for long-lasting look as well as tooth strength.
Oral hygiene is one of the most important methods to prevent dental caries. Personal oral hygiene care compounds of brushing and flossing everyday (Nguyen 2011). He also suggests that in order to prevent dental caries, people need to brush teeth after every meal. Besides, brush teeth regularly in the morning and evening, or at least once a day after dinner. Brush teeth with a soft bristle brush, brush inside, outside and chewing surfaces (Nguyen 2011).
Using toothpaste contained fluoride, drinking water or salt to supplement fluoride can reduce 30% of dental caries (Nguyen 2011).
Beside oral hygiene, a report in the Helium (2011) revealed that everyone should have the dentist checked every 6 months. If the plaque is found building up between your teeth, note what the dentist says. Listening to what the dentists said can also help to lessen the appearance of plaque.
Finally, dietary alteration also helps people to prevent tooth decay. For dental health, the amount of sugar that is taken in is more important than the amount of sugar used up (British Nutrition Foundation, 2004). Hence, the recommendation of minimizing snacking is brought out because snacking produces a supply of nutrition for acid-producing in the mouth. For children, the American Dental Association and the European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry suggest to reduce the oftenness of drinks with sugar. And not giving baby bottles to babies when they sleep. The guideline of Clinical Affairs Committee (2012) is also recommended mothers not to share utensils and cups with their babies to prevent transmitting bacteria from mother’s mouth.
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2.4. Tooth decay in Vietnam
As stated in ‘Dan tri’ (2012), with the parents, the smile of children are always the precious things. However, they do not care much about their children’s teeth or many false views lead to some unpredicted consequences. Parents often think that it is too soon to teach their children how to protect the teeth, and baby teeth will be replaced by permanent teeth; it’s time for children to brush teeth two times a day to avoid tooth decay. In fact, it is extremely wrong if children have tooth decay in the period of baby teeth, they will at risk of tooth decay in adulthood.
Currently, according to the ‘Vietnamese Smile Protection Program’ (2012), about 85% of children aged 6 to 8 suffered from tooth decay; 60 – 90% of children have gingivitis. Not as romantic as the fairy tales that the tooth fairy would make the tooth disappears, they also emphasized that if not treated; tooth decay will lead to pancreatitis and cause pain.
There are many reasons for the alarming number of children’s oral health, including the lack of parental attention to this issue. Parents accidentally support the children’s bad habits such as improper brushing, eating too much sweet.
Oral health status was at risk. According to Hanoi Medical University, up to 90.4% of children were examined with plaque. According to this statistics, tooth decay in ages of 6-8 is 84.9%, permanent caries at ages of 9-11 is 54.6%. This has become the common concern not only of the society but also the dental experts who know most about dental problems as well as the importance of teeth for the development of children. As the result, children need dental care as soon as the appearance of the first tooth, also maintain proper brushing habits will help children learn how to take care of their tooth.
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