Tooth decay also known as dental caries or cavities is one of the most pervasive of all oral diseases. Children and adults alike can be affected with cavities. Several bacteria reside in the oral cavity some good and some harmful. It is the harmful bacteria that initiate the process of decay. Infection develops due to acid secretion that corrodes the enamel and causes decay of the tooth.
Elements of the oral cavity
The oral cavity contains:
- Saliva: The saliva keeps the mouth moist and contains minerals that reinforce the teeth; levels of acid that decay teeth are reduced with saliva
- Plaque: Plaque is a biofilm-type material that sticks to the surface of the mouth; it contains bacteria and ingredients of the saliva
- Bacteria: Tooth decay is caused due to streptococcus mutans and lactobacilli bacteria which are oral carcinogenic flora that leads to the damage
The process of decay
With the intake of sugary foods and starch the bacteria start releasing lactic acid into the mouth due to the fermentation of dietary carbohydrates; pH levels in the mouth drop causing dissolution of the enamel; a white spot appears on the enamel of the tooth that can still be repaired with fluoride; the loss of minerals is ideally beneath the enamel. Over a period of time the decay breaks through the enamel causing dental caries.
Childhood caries develops in young children and is also known as baby bottle tooth decay. This occurs normally in children who fall asleep with a bottle of milk or juice still in the mouth. Bacteria grow fast due to the continuous exposure of teeth to carbohydrates.
Prevention of dental caries
To prevent dental caries, it is essential to strengthen teeth by using fluoride, and other agents that contain calcium; fluorides penetration strengthens the teeth and removes acid to nourish teeth.
Dr. Renju Anil drafts teeth-care plans to restore health and full functionality of the teeth. Call her for a consultation today.