Tooth decay: what is it and how can we avoid it?

What is dental caries?

Dental caries is an infectious pathology caused by bacteria located in the oral cavity. These bacteria in their metabolism elaborate acids capable of eliminating the dental enamel. Once they gain access to the enamel, their advance is unstoppable because the dentin, which is under the enamel, is much softer and weaker and therefore its destruction is faster. If it is not treated during these stages it can invade the pulp (nerve) causing the typical toothache. If this occurs, it is necessary to carry out the endodontics of the tooth or its extraction, if the destruction of the tooth is very important.

How can caries be avoided?

Dental enamel is the hardest structure in the human body, even harder than cortical bone. Despite this, the quality of this enamel is not the same in all people; the genetics of each patient determines the resistance to caries attack, making it a fundamental factor.

Other factors that we in dentistry consider relevant and that influence the appearance of caries are the existence or not of dental plaque, the diet and the degree of fluoride ingested. Dental plaque or bacterial plaque is that white-yellowish substance that accumulates on the teeth when they are not brushed correctly. It is also made up of bacteria, cellular debris from the mouth and food residues. When it remains on the teeth for a long period of time, the enamel will be perforated to a greater degree in cases where it is weaker.

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Foods that favor the appearance of caries

Sweet and sticky foods such as chocolate, cookies, pastries, sweets, etc., are appropriate to increase these bacteria, since carbohydrates are the basis of their diet. Among the cariogenic foods we must also mention bananas and grapes and, among drinks, all those that are carbonated such as soft drinks in general and, to a large extent, colas. This last type of soft drinks causes a great amount of caries and erosions to an enamel that is not very resistant. Fluoride is a fundamental component in the mineralization of the enamel, for this reason it is essential to know if the drinking water has adequate fluoride and, if not, correct supplements should be provided, especially during the period of tooth formation.