Caries is a dental infection that destroys the tooth from the enamel to the pulp. Sugar and a bad oral hygiene are responsible for this widespread disease. The treatment consists of removing the damaged tissues and then filling the cavity created. Usually the tooth is preserved. But when the pulp is affected and the tooth is very damaged, extraction is sometimes the only solution. Théoneste Nambajimana , a dental technician at the Espoir polyclinic in Gitega, set up by the association Iprosarude (Initiative pour la Promotion de la Santé Rurale et le Développement) explains.
Caries is an infection that destroys the tooth from the outside in: first the enamel, then the dentin (dentinite) and finally the pulp (pulpitis). The infection is linked to the presence of bacteria (especially streptococcus mutans) found in the dental plaque that are deposited on the teeth.
The cavity usually appears as a black spot or a cavity. It can appear on any side of the tooth and often in places that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush, such as in the grooves of the molars, at the base of the tooth, between two teeth, under a “filling”…
“The symptoms of tooth decay vary according to its stage of evolution. Generally, if only the enamel is affected the patient does not feel any symptoms. It is when the caries reaches the dentin, that the patient feels moderate pain and sensitivity to cold. Finally, when the decay affects the pulp of the tooth, the pain can be acute and the patients describe a sensitivity to cold but also to heat”, according to Mr. Théoneste, the dental surgeon.
A cavity can become complicated by a dental abscess when it progresses to the pulp (which becomes infected) and the germs reach the root end of the tooth causing an accumulation of pus in the tooth or gum. “The pain is particularly acute in the case of an abscess, which pushes the patient to consult,” adds the specialist.
Caries can occur in children as soon as the first milk teeth appear. The “baby bottle syndrome” is a severe form of dental caries that can occur in children because of a quasi permanent contact of the milk teeth with a baby bottle containing sweetened drinks: the teeth are black, especially those “of front”. The evolution of permanent teeth can be altered by this disorder.
“Dental caries is one of the most frequent lesions, we consider it one of the most frequent infections in the world”, says Mr. Theoneste, but it also represents the first cause of tooth loss.
“The treatment of a cavity consists of removing the infected part and consolidating the lesion in order to save the tooth as long as it is possible”, explains the expert.
In the next article, we will come back to the different forms of cavities. It should be noted that the dentistry service is functional in all the polyclinics of the Iprosarude, namely: polyclinic Espoir of Gitega, polyclinic Espoir of Kayanza, Makamba-kayogoro and also at the clinic Espoir of Mwaro.
E. Allickan Niragira