Dental caries (decay) is a bacterial disease caused by dental plaque. It progresses when acid formed by bacteria from dietary fermentable carbohydrates diffuses into the tooth and dissolves the mineral which is called demineralization. Pathological factors including acid-producing bacteria, salivary dysfunction, and dietary carbohydrates develop caries. Dental caries can occur in both milk (primary) and adult (permanent) teeth.
Different ways to prevent dental caries are as follows-
- Saliva does self-cleaning of the teeth naturally. But conditions like reduced salivation and dry mouth (xerostomia) increases the plaque formation. Plaque can accumulate by uneven tooth surfaces, crowding or other irregularities in the positioning of teeth, inflammation of the gingiva.
- The consistency of the food determines the time how long carbohydrates stay on the tooth surface and increases the risk of caries. Hence, sticky food like caramel or potato chips all should be avoided and liquid foods and soft drinks should be kept in the mouth for a shorter time or not sipped constantly.
- Vitamin D deficiency increases caries risk as it is associated with the metabolism of calcium and mineralization of hard teeth tissues.
- Toothbrushing and flossing are reliable means of controlling plaque depending upon toothbrush design, brushing techniques, frequency of brushing (twice daily) and brushing time (not more than 2 minutes). https://youtu.be/xm9c5HAUBpY
- Fluoride is one of the main measures for caries prevention. It can be used either systemically (by drinking fluoridated water, milk, salt, pills) or locally (toothpaste, gel, foam, rinses, varnish).
- Sealants are applied in patients with deep grooves on tooth surfaces to prevent decay. They are applied without local anesthesia and without removal of natural tooth structure. They can be used in both milk and adult teeth.
- Last but the most important thing is regular visits to the dentist as they help to prevent decay by instructing and motivating patients about dental oral hygiene and by doing the required treatment of decayed teeth.