It is one of the most common of all diseases. It is widespread and painful yet preventable. It occurs in all the age groups, especially among young children.
Tooth decay or ‘Dental caries’ is an infectious disease that causes damage to the structure of teeth. If it is left untreated it causes pain and swelling leading it tooth loss. The mouth acts as an ecosystem their bacteria and other substances interact with the tooth surface in a medium called saliva. Saliva is an important fluid as it helps in keeping the mouth healthy. It serves as a bathing medium for teeth acts as a lubricant during chewing of food, maintains neutral pH or environment and has a defense mechanism
During favorable conditions, bacteria such as lactobacillus and streptococcus mutants bind to the tooth surface. These get attached to the dental plaque which is a yellowish-white soft deposit on the teeth and forms then oral hygiene is not maintained then there is an intake of sugars or carbohydrates, the bacteria have the ability to breakdown the sugars into acids, which in turn drops the salivary PH. This causes the minerals to present on the tooth surface to dissolve leading to caries every individual’s oral hygiene differs. The dilemma is why some people are prone to caries and infection and some are not.
There has to be a sound balance between pathogenic (infection) and protective (health-promoting) factors. When this balance is interrupted the person becomes susceptible to carious attack pathogenic factors include increased amounts of acid-producing bacteria, reduced salivary flow and function and poor dietary habits and oral hygiene. Protective factors include healthy salivary function, use of sealants or cement (to seal the areas prove to decay), antimicrobial agents, topical fluoride, healthy and nutritious diet.
Nowadays, it is important to strive for prevention of dental caries tooth decay, as it is rightly said prevention is better than cure but prevention doesn’t mean maintaining a satisfactory oral hygiene with proper brushing and flossing of teeth. It rather requires regular dental visits to assess the teeth that are at caries risk and to know and apply the products that can manage the risk level. The prevention should be strategic and based on tipping the balance towards healthy mouth by minimizing the protective factors and minimizing the pathogenic factors.