Dental caries is one of the most common oral diseases. Caries, also known as tooth decay or cavities.
What are cavities?
Cavities are caused by the acid produced by bacteria in dental plaque. Over time the acid disolves the tooth’s hard tissues (enamel and dentine). Initially, the cavity is limited to the enamel but when decay progresses and reaches the inside of the tooth, the dentine, a filling is usually required.
Causes of Cavities
Every time you eat or drink, bacteria in your mouth start to produce acids which dissolves part of the tooth’s hard tissue Your saliva helps by washing away excess food and neutralizes the acid. Minerals from the saliva and flouride toothpaste repair the damaged hard tissue.
Sweet food and drinks, frequent snacking between meals or a poor oral hygiene leads to increased acid production by the bacteria. This higher and frequent acid production will not give the tooth a chance to recover between meals and a ) cavity can develop.
Good oral hygiene is necessary to prevent dental plaque build-up , but fluoride and diet are equally important factors in the development of tooth decay
How to prevent caries
- Brush your teeth and use fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Fluoride strengthens the tooth enamel and can heal early signs of tooth decay . Remember to also clean between your teeth once a day.
- Frequent snacking between meals will not give your teeth the chance to recover from the acid attacks. Let your teeth rest and choose water when thirsty instead of sweet or sour drinks.
- Always go to bed with clean teeth – the production of saliva is reduced at night, which lowers the saliva’s effectiveness.
- If you suffer from dry mouth, the risk of decay is higher. Your oral hygiene is even more important as there is less saliva to help clean the teeth and neutralise the acid.
- In addition to your daily home care, visit your dentist or dental hygienist regularly.
Three ways to prevent caries
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Clean between your teeth every day
- Avoid snacking and sugary drinks between meals
Read more about your oral health in our leaflet Simple tips for a healthy smile.