Dental Caries


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Dr Bharti Sharma, BDS (Rajasthan), SMO (Dental), CHC Nadaun, Hamirpur, July, 2015

“If a patient cannot clean his teeth, no dentist can clean them fore him” – William R Alger

dental.july15bDental caries or dental cavities are very common dental problems among children as well as adults. It begins with a small black mark on the surface of the tooth which gradually increases in size and if not timely intervened it forms big holes in the tooth surface forming a big cavity. This cavity so formed harbours food particles and bacteria that lead to dental caries.

Causes of Dental Caries

Dental caries or cavities are caused commonly due to the following:-

  • Poor oral hygiene: Irregular and improper brushing habits lead to formation of a thin sticky film on the tooth surface which is known as dental plaque. Bacteria normally present in mouth flourish and colonize in this plaque and convert sugars from the food we eat into acids that attacks on the tooth surface of enamel and gradually weakens it, thus forming cavities.
  • Faulty diet: Diet plays a major role in cavity formation. Hard sticky candies, refined sugars, caramels, baked productions like biscuits, cakes, etc., stick to the tooth surface and enhance plaque formation.
  • Genetics: Sometimes dental caries are caused due to inheritance of the tendency from the parents. The tendency is passed to the next generation.
  • Formative deformities:  At times due to some disturbances, like injury, in the formative stage of the tooth, leads to irregular tooth surface or hypo-calcification, thus leading to weak enamel and makes it prone to caries.

dental.july15aSigns and Symptoms

Dental cavity formation shows signs and symptoms like:

  • A dark spot on the tooth surface.
  • Toothache.
  • Sensitivity to sweet, hot or cold food or drinks.
  • Pain on chewing food.

Prevention of Dental Caries

Dental caries can be prevented by:

  • Maintaining Oral Hygiene: Regular brushing after meals, at least twice daily, that is after breakfast and after dinner, prevents plaque formation and further cavity formation. Correct brush and brushing method should be adopted for best cleansing results. A soft tooth brush should be used and brushing completed within two minutes. A good fluoride toothpaste prevents dental caries. Tooth brushes wear out with time and need replacement at regular intervals. Besides brushing dental flossing and oral rinses aid in maintaining oral hygiene.
  • Healthy Diet: Rich fibrous diet and fruits not only prevent dental caries but also help in cleansing inter-dental spaces. Fruits like apple, guava, pear are very good cleansers as well as nutrients for teeth.
  • Regular Check-ups: Regular dental check-up are important, at least after every six months, so that dental caries is detected at an early stage and treated timely.
  • Avoid Snacking on Sugary Food and In-between Meals: Dental caries can be reduced by avoiding snacking on sugary or starchy foods. Mouth remains acidic for several hours after you eat, therefore makes it more prone to caries. So to prevent caries avoid in-between meal snacks.


Once caries progresses it has to be cleared by drilling or with laser. The decayed material is cleared in the cavity and removed and finally the cavity is filled with filling materials like composite resin, glass ionomer, etc. If the cavity is quite large, ceramic inlay, onlay or artificial crown if given which is fabricated in a dental laboratory. Sometimes the cavity is very deep, invading the pulp of the tooth, in such cases root canal treatment is needed. The pulp portion of the tooth is removed and filled with filing material.

“Every tooth in a man’s mouth is more valuable than a diamond” – Miguelde Cervantes


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