Diseases & Conditions
What is dental caries?
Dental caries or tooth decay is the breakdown of the outer layer of the teeth (enamel) by bacteria. The bacteria convert the sugar from the food into acids which dissolves the minerals in the enamel. This leads to erosion of the enamel, eventually forming cavities and tooth decay.1 Dental caries usually occurs in children between 6 to 11 years and adolescents aged 12 to 19 years.1 9 out of 10 adults over the age of 20 have some sort of tooth-root decay.2
What causes dental caries?
The formation of cavities occurs over time and is caused by tooth decay. It begins with plaques build-up on the teeth that breakdown the teeth surface.3
What are the symptoms of dental caries?
Signs of tooth decay may not appear until it has reached an advanced stage. Symptoms mainly include toothache, tooth sensitivity, spots on teeth, bad breath and unpleasant taste in mouth.3
What are the risk factors of dental caries?
The main risk factors for dental caries include:4
Eating food that stick to the teeth for a long time such as milk, honey, soda etc.
Frequent consumption of snacks or soda.
Teeth at the back of the mouth have more grooves and pits where food gets stuck, thus increasing bacterial activity and enamel erosion.
Fluoride provides protection against cavity formation. Inadequate exposure to fluoride can therefore increase the risk of caries.
Not brushing teeth immediately after food consumption contributes to tooth decay.
Saliva protects the teeth from demineralization. Therefore low salivary flow in the mouth leaves the teeth susceptible to the bacteria.
Cavities are more common in younger and older people.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease can cause acid to leak backwards from the stomach to the mouth wearing away the enamel of the teeth.
How is dental caries diagnosed?
Regular dental check-ups help to detect tooth decay. If a problem is suspected, the dentist will take an X-ray.
How is dental caries treated?
Treatment of dental caries depends on the severity of the condition and may include:5
How can dental caries be prevented?
Dental caries can be prevented by:1
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cavities/basics/treatment/con-20030076 (Accessed December 22, 2015)