What is dental caries or dental decay?

Dental caries or dental decay is a common and widespread disease affecting teeth. In most cases, it is a ‘lifestyle’ disease which can be avoided.
Dental decay has an enormous impact on everyone with teeth. Teeth with ‘holes’ in them can lead to pain from infection which will make eating painful, disrupt your sleep, and affect your overall health. In children, dental cavities can cause sufficient discomfort that may affect their daily activities and cause irritability.

Factors leading to dental caries.

These problems are totally unnecessary as dental caries is preventable. To prevent dental caries, you must first understand the factors contributing to this disease.

1) Lifestyle: What you eat and how frequently you eat is the most important cause of dental caries.
2) Plaque: Plaque is the bacteria mix which naturally builds up on teeth surfaces. These are the culprits which produce acid in your mouth. The acid produced ‘eats away’ the tooth structure eventually leading to a cavity or ‘hole’ in the tooth.
3) Genetics: Unfortunately, for some people, their saliva type and low volume favours the development of dental decay. Also, the types of bacteria in the mouth can affect dental caries development.

The photo below shows a child’s mouth with multiple decaying teeth.

Here are some tips to avoid dental decay:

A) Limit snacking frequency throughout the day to avoid teeth being exposed to an acidic environment for prolonged periods.
B) Brush your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day and floss each night.
C) Drink enough fluoridated water to remain hydrated throughout the day.
D) Visit your dentist regularly for early detection of dental decay. Early intervention of dental decay, in most cases, can be managed without any drilling!

Roland Chong

Roland has over 20 years experience as a general dentist. Roland does all aspects of general dentistry with a special interest in prosthodontics (crown and bridge work) and cosmetic dentistry. A member of the International Team of Implantology, Roland is constantly developing his skills by collaborating with international experts.

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