Tooth decay is principally caused by sugar consumption and can largely be prevented by reducing intake,appropriate fluoride use and promoting good oral hygiene.
Development of the Disease
Tooth decay(dental caries) is a multi factorial disease,caused by interaction between the tooth surface,the bacteria bio film(dental plaque)and the presence of sugars from food .Bio film bacteria metabolizes sugars and produces acids ,which over time break down the tooth enamel.
Decay usually starts hidden from view in the fissures of the teeth or in the tight spaces between them. in early stages the disease can be arrested and even reversed ,but in the later stages a cavity forms. then treatment becomes necessary to restore tooth function,involving the removal of the decayed tissue or the placement of a filling or crown .if left untreated ,decay can lead to extensive destruction of the tooth ,pain, and infection, the latter can result in abscess formation or septicaemia, At this stage ,root canal treatment or extraction becomes necessary.
Most of the factors involved in tooth decay are modifiable , providing entry points for individuals and oral health professionals to take action to prevent or reduce the severity of the disease
Reducing acid attacks on the tooth enamel can be achieved by reducing the total amount and frequency of sugar consumed.Action to protect the tooth surface can be taken by ensuring adequate exposure to fluoride , for example by using fluoride toothpaste or fluoridating water supplies .Action on the microbial bio film can be taken by ensuring good oral hygiene practices.
In addition ,a range of external factors such as where and how people live ,also influences the development of tooth decay. this means that although the process starts at the surface of the tooth the problem can not be solved by concentrating on the tooth alone. it is also necessitates action on the community level to address the broader determinants underlying the disease process.
Tooth decay develops over time and is triggered by acid production resulting from the break down of sugars.However ,a wide range of other factors influence the development of tooth decay and its severity.These factors act over time at the level of the community,the family and the affected individual
From “The Oral Health Atlas “