What are Dental Caries?

, Health A2Z

Dental Caries, also known as tooth decay, is one of the most prevalent and prevalent persistent diseases today and is one of the most preventable. When you eat certain foods, the bacteria in your teeth break them down and produce acids that can severely damage the hard tissue of your teeth the enamel and the underlying layer, dentin.

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Dental caries is the scientific term for tooth decay. It is usually caused by certain types of bacteria.

Many types of bacteria normally live in the human mouth. They are based on teeth in an adhesive film called plaque. This plate also contains saliva, leftovers and other natural substances. It is easier to form in some places including;

  • Cracks, holes or grooves in the posterior teeth
  • Between the teeth
  • For fills or bridges
  • Near the gum line

Bacteria turn sugars and carbohydrates (starches) into foods that we eat in acids. The acids dissolve the minerals in the hard enamel that covers the crown of the tooth. Enamel erodes or develops holes. They are too small to see at first. But they become bigger with time.

The acid can also seep through the pores of the enamel. Thus, the decomposition begins in the softest dentine layer, the main body of the tooth. When dentin and enamel break, a cavity is created.

If the caries is not eliminated, the bacteria continue to grow and produce acid, which eventually penetrates into the inner layer of the tooth. It contains soft pulp and sensitive nerve fibers.

The roots of the teeth, which are exposed to gingival recession, can also develop rot. The outer layer of the root, the cement, is not as thick as the enamel. The bacterial acids in the plate can dissolve them quickly.

What Causes Dental Caries?

Dental caries can be spotted on two specific areas of the teeth including interproximal caries, which are dental caries which form between the teeth, and occlusal caries, that form on the topmost part of the tooth where food particles regularly come in direct contact with the teeth.

In interproximal and occlusal locations where bacteria decay and pose a risk to the oral hygiene.

If the teeth and surrounding areas have not cared properly, the bacteria will begin to ingest the sugars left over from food in the mouth and further converted into acids as a waste product.

The formed acids are strong enough to demineralize the enamel on the teeth and develop tiny holes, which is the first stage of dental caries.

As the coating begins to break down, the tooth loses its ability to reinforce the phosphate and calcium structures of the teeth naturally through saliva and, in time, acid penetrates into the tooth and destroys it from the inside out.

Symptoms of Dental Caries:

Early stages of caries may not have any symptoms. But later, when the decay has eaten by bacterias through the enamel, the teeth may be sensitive to sweet, cold, and hot foods or drinks.

Diagnosis of Dental Caries:

Dental Caries can be diagnosed by a look at the teeth and may probe carries with a tool called an explorer used by dentists to look for cavities or areas of damage. The problem with these methods is that they usually do not catch cavities when they are just developing. But if too much force is used it can puncture the enamel. That further could allow the cavity-causing bacteria to spread across the healthy teeth.

Usually, a dentist uses X-rays of the teeth on a set schedule, and also if a problem is suspected. They can show newly forming decay, especially between teeth. They also show the more advanced cavities, including whether the cavity has reached the pulp or the tooth requires a root canal.

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Newer devices and technologies also can help to detect tooth cavity. They are useful in some situations as well as do not spread decay. The most commonly used device is liquid dye or stain.

In this process, dentist brushes the nontoxic dye over the teeth, then rinses it off with plain water. It rinses away cleanly from healthy areas but sticks to the spoiled areas.

Some dentists also use high-technology devices like lasers for detecting cavities. Under various conditions, these devices can detect very early stage of the tooth decay, which can actually be reversed.

Treatment for Dental Caries:

There are mainly four types of treatment to deal with dental caries including;

  1. Filling
  2. Crowns
  3. Root Canal
  4. Extraction


Fillings are the most common form of treatment for dealing with dental caries. Basically, in this process, a dentist drills into the affected areas of the teeth, excludes the decayed material inside the prepared cavity and inserts the empty space with an appropriate dental filling material.

There are different types of filling materials that can be used, based on the area where caries has occurred. In the case of back teeth, some dentists prefer using another type of dental filling materials which are stronger.


Crowns are a different option for dentists while treating dental caries. These are mainly used when a large proportion of the tooth is destroyed by the disease.

When tooth decay or cavity leads to the need for large fillings, the tooth becomes more prone to cracks and eventually breaking. The dentist would attempt to salvage the remaining tooth further repair it, and finally fit the tooth with a porcelain or alloy crown covering.

Root Canal:

Another method of treatment, a dentist may employ a root canal. As the tooth decay or cavity progresses through the enamel and completes in the center of the tooth, it may even advance following the damage of the nerves, which are in the root of the teeth.


In some cases, the tooth may be damaged beyond repair and must be removed if there is the risk of the infection spreading to the jaw bone and other teeth. The elimination of some teeth may affect the order of those left in the mouth, so dentists recommend a partial denture, implant or bridge be inserted in the edentulous areas.

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