Dental Caries

Dental caries, also known as tooth decay or a cavity, is an infection, bacterial in origin, that causes demineralization and destruction of the hard tissues (enamel, dentin and cementum), usually by production of acid by bacterial fermentation of the food debris accumulated on the tooth surface. If demineralization exceeds saliva and other remineralization factors such as from calcium and fluoridated toothpastes, these hard tissues progressively break down, producing dental caries (cavities, holes in the teeth). The bacteria most responsible for dental cavities are the mutans streptococci, most prominently Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus, and lactobacilli. If left untreated, the disease can lead to pain, tooth loss and infection. Today, caries remain one of the most common diseases throughout the world. Cariology is the study of dental caries.

The presentation of caries is highly variable. However the risk factors and stages of development are similar. Initially it may appear as a small chalky area (smooth surface caries), which may eventually develop into a large cavitation. Sometimes caries may be directly visible. However other methods of detection such as X-rays are used for less visible areas of teeth and to judge the extent of destruction. Lasers for detecting caries allow detection without radiation and are now used for detection of interproximal decay (between the teeth). Disclosing solutions are also used during tooth restoration to minimize the chance of recurrence.

Tooth decay disease is caused by specific types of bacteria that produce acid in the presence of fermentable carbohydrates such as sucrose, fructose, and glucose. The mineral content of teeth is sensitive to increases in acidity from the production of lactic acid. To be specific, a tooth (which is primarily mineral in content) is in a constant state of back-and-forth demineralization and remineralization between the tooth and surrounding saliva. For people with little saliva, especially due to radiation therapies that may destroy the salivary glands, there also exists remineralization gel. These patients are particularly susceptible to dental caries. When the pH at the surface of the tooth drops below 5.5, demineralization proceeds faster than remineralization (meaning that there is a net loss of mineral structure on the tooth's surface). Most foods are in this acidic range and without remineralization, this results in the ensuing decay. Depending on the extent of tooth destruction, various treatments can be used to restore teeth to proper form, function, and aesthetics, but there is no known method to regenerate large amounts of tooth structure. Instead, dental health organizations advocate preventive and prophylactic measures, such as regular oral hygiene and dietary modifications, to avoid dental caries.

Read more about Dental Caries:  Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Epidemiology, History

Other articles related to "dental caries, dental, caries":

Human Tooth - Tooth Care
... keeping the mouth clean and is a means of preventing dental caries, gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, and other dental disorders ... Regular cleanings, usually done by dentists and dental hygienists, remove tartar (mineralized plaque) that may develop even with careful brushing and flossing ... When used correctly, dental floss removes plaque from between teeth and at the gum line, where periodontal disease often begins and could develop caries ...
Streptococcus Mutans - Cariogenic Potential
... The etiological agent of dental caries is associated with its ability to metabolize various sugars, form a robust biofilm, produce an abundant amount of ... Dental caries is a dental biofilm-related oral disease associated with increased consumption of dietary sugar ... When dental biofilms remain on tooth surfaces, along with frequent consumption of sugar, acidogenic bacteria (members of dental biofilms) will metabolize the sugar to organic acids ...
Dental Caries - History
... There is a long history of dental caries ... The largest increases in the prevalence of caries have been associated with dietary changes ... from a million years ago through the neolithic period show signs of caries, excepting those from the Paleolithic and Mesolithic ages ...
John Leonora - Published Research
... Suppression of dental caries by chemical activation of the hypothalamic-parotid endocrine axis ... Journal of Dental Research (48) S207, Abstr #666 ... Relation between early changes in dentin and later dental caries ...
Lactobacillus - Dental Caries
... Although considered beneficial, some Lactobacillus species have been associated with dental caries ... count in saliva has been used as a "caries test" for many years ... cause existing carious lesions to progress, especially those in coronal caries ...

Famous quotes containing the words caries and/or dental:

    Scepticism, that dry caries of the intelligence.
    Victor Hugo (1802–1885)

    [T]hose wholemeal breads ... look hand-thrown, like studio pottery, and are fine if you have all your teeth. But if not, then not. Perhaps the rise ... of the ... factory-made loaf, which may easily be mumbled to a pap betweeen gums, reflects the sorry state of the nation’s dental health.
    Angela Carter (1940–1992)