What Is Dental Caries?

What is dental caries?

Dental caries or tooth decay is demineralisation of the tooth surface caused by acids in the mouth. Cavities are the result of prolonged loss of minerals like calcium and phosphate from enamel and dentine. A white spot on the tooth, often near the gums, may be an early sign of demineralisation. At this early stage minerals can be replaced with the help of fluoride. If minerals continue to be lost, a hole (cavity) forms in the tooth and a filling is needed to repair the damage.
Decay in adults is common on the chewing surfaces, the surfaces between the teeth and around fillings
What can you do to prevent caries?
Remove plaque thoroughly from all tooth surfaces by daily brushing and flossing. You may check the effectiveness of your brushing by using disclosing tablets (dyes) to show where you are not removing all the plaque.

  • Use fluoride toothpaste at least twice daily, in the morning and before bedtime.
  • Use a soft toothbrush. Brush in a set pattern so that you don’t miss any teeth.
  • Use floss or other special cleaning aids to clean between teeth where cavities often develop
  • Make changes to your diet to reduce sugar intake.
  • If you have the feeling of a dry mouth, talk to your dentist or your hygienist.
  • Have a regular dental check up, at least once a year.

How Does Fluoride work?

Fluoride acts against the destruction of the tooth surface by acids formed by bacteria. It forms a store of fluoride on the teeth from which fluoride is released during an acid attack. It reduces the loss of minerals from the tooth and promotes the repair of early decay.

Why increase caries protection in case of a dry mouth?

A lack of saliva results in a dry mouth. Saliva is the body’s natural defence against tooth decay. Saliva washes away and neutralises acids and puts minerals back into teeth. If you lack adequate saliva flow, your teeth can decay and wear away more easily and you can get more gum problems.
Smoking, caffeine, some medicines and illnesses that affect saliva glands may reduce your saliva flow. It is important not to suck on sugary sweets or to drink sugary drinks to relieve the feeling of a dry mouth. These habits can cause very rapid tooth decay.
How to use oral care products for effective caries protection correctly:

Fluoride Toothpaste:

With today’s diets, saliva alone is not enough to prevent tooth decay for most people. Fluoride is also needed each day. Generally, using a fluoride containing toothpaste twice a day and drinking water that contains fluoride will provide enough protection.
Studies have shown that brushing twice a day using fluoride toothpaste reduces the risk of tooth decay much more than brushing only once a day.
However, additional fluoride protection may be needed if the risk of tooth decay is higher, i.e. due to dry mouth, frequent intake of sugary food and drinks.


It is important that you remove plaque daily and thoroughly from all tooth surfaces by brushing and flossing. If plaque is not removed each day, the plaque can harden to form calculus. Calculus cannot be removed by brushing. Calculus traps more plaque and makes it more difficult to keep teeth clean.

Dental Floss:

Dental floss is the best product to clean between teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. 40% of tooth surfaces are interdental surfaces (between teeth)! If flossing proves difficult, there are other means, like interdental brushes and toothpicks. Get the advice of your dentist or dental hyg