The Latin term ‘caries’ translates into ‘decay’ and precisely describes the state of teeth in this disease. Caries is a destruction of a tooth, which starts from the solution of mineral substances contained in the tooth and is followed by the destruction of hard tooth tissues and cavitation.
Demineralization or removing enamel-forming minerals is caused by bacteria. As a result of poor oral hygiene, a soft plaque is forming on the enamel. This plaque is binding to the tooth surface and becomes an area where diverse bacteria build up. It’s proven that caries doesn’t develop in animals, which organisms have no bacteria, even when these animals keep a cariogenic diet. By absorbing carbohydrates contained in the plaque, bacteria release organic acids. Acidic media expedites the destruction of apatite crystals the enamel – external protection cover of teeth – contains. After that, microbes get into underlying layers and start destroying them.
Certainly, the caries cause doesn’t come down to the presence of microbes in the oral cavity, there are a number of other factors, such as inheritance. Eating habits are of great importance. The lack of proteins, vitamins, mineral salts, fluorine, and various microelements promote caries development. Eating lots of sweets help bacteria destroy teeth. Saliva content and properties play a critical part. It is found that saliva in people susceptible to caries is more viscous with the changed content of mineral salts.
There are several caries stages.
If you don’t visit a doctor early, the destruction of the tooth will progress, microbes will get into the tooth pulp through the dentin and cause pulp inflammation. If not treated the latter develops into periodontitis, which could finally result in the loss of the tooth and a more dangerous complication.
To detect the first signs of caries, one needs to visit a dentist at least once a year. The fact is that early caries shows no signs, and it’s hard to notice a tiny spot on your own. We see the chewing surface only. But caries may be located on the side surface.
It is important to realize that once caries developed it cannot heal itself but will progress. That’s why if you noticed some of the symptoms, you need to visit a dentist as soon as possible.
A dentist defines the degree of caries development and chooses the proper treatment method. The sooner the treatment starts, the better. To treat caries at the spot stage, remineralization (recovery of a sufficient amount of mineral) using a special solution will be enough. A decay cavity is treated followed by filling in surface, medium and deep caries. In deeper caries, drug inlays containing calcium hydrate is used, which contributes to ‘secondary’ dentin formation, in other words, it provides additional protection for tooth nerve integrity.
Thus, caries develops because of poor tooth brushing and eating sugar-containing food. The worst thing you can do is to have a cup of sweet tea with cookies after you brushed your teeth and go to bed. The oral cavity bacteria will be happy with this surprise.
Prevention of caries mainly involves a healthy diet, hygiene oral care, regular dental visits. Proper oral hygiene includes 3-5-minute tooth brushing 2 times a day (before breakfast and after dinner) followed by the use of mouth rinses. In addition, professional tooth brushing at the dental office 1-2 times a year is recommended. A dentist can also seal a fissure. Fissures are the chewing surfaces of back teeth composed of sulci and grooves, due to this it’s hard to clean them and they are most susceptible to caries. Special sealants are used to fill these grooves, resulting in the smoother and caries-protected chewing surface of a tooth.