The old disease: Tooth decay

Health & FitnessMedicine

  • Author Sean Ahmadi
  • Published March 3, 2016
  • Word count 718

The old disease: Tooth decay

One of the oldest diseases of all times is tooth decay. You can seldom find people who have not made several visits to dentists during their lives. The cause of most of these visits is tooth decay or caries. Caries is a tooth disease caused by bacteria.

How does caries form?

Our bodies are occupied by numerous bacteria. Not all the bacteria are harmful. For example, the bacteria flora in our intestine tract is crucial for our survivals that are called symbiotic bacteria. Other bacteria are called commensal that we do not directly benefit from them. For example, some commensal bacteria on the skin prevent these areas from being inhabited by other harmful bacteria. Sometimes the bacteria and the host struggle in a fight for dominance. Such germs are called opportunists. If the host is damaged by the bacteria dominance, it means that the bacteria are winning. These germs are then referred to as pathogens. We have a number of bacteria in our mouth. Some beneficial bacteria prevent other aggressive cells from settling in the mouth; while other bacteria live alongside them. This means that we have symbiotic and commensal bacteria in our mouth. However, the bacteria flora can change instantly due to changes in your life circumstances. The commensal bacteria can suddenly change into pathogenic germs. This is what happens in carries.

The main causes of tooth decay

The most important factors in forming tooth decay include:

• Certain host factors

• Plaque

• Time

Host factors encompass all factors relating to the host, such as tooth anatomy, saliva composition, and cleaning habits. Plaque is a layer on the teeth consisting of saliva parts, bacteria, carbohydrates, which form when the teeth are not cleaned properly. When all these factors (bad cleaning habits, plaque, and time) come together, they lead to the formation of caries. Plaque is organized like a little town. Some of the bacteria there are specialized to adhere to the teeth. Other bacteria transport nutrients by forming transport tubes. Then the streptococcus mutant bacteria produce nutrients from organic acids, which in turn attack the tooth by removing the existing minerals from the tooth substance. Working together, you can see the plaque is pretty much like a little town. The formation of mature plaque usually takes about 24 hours. That is the amount of time it takes originally for commensal and symbiotic bacteria to turn into germs that are pathogenic. If unorganized, mouth bacteria are not harmful. Just mature plaque can cause tooth decay or periodontitis. Therefore, it is very important for everyone to remove plaque efficiently with the help of a toothbrush, dental water jets, and floss. By doing so, the bacteria are deprived of their home, therefore, they cannot cause any more harm. Within the plaque, the bacterial products break down the enamel. However as soon as caries reach the dentine, it is settled by bacteria. This is due to a protein in the dentine that supplies bacteria with a constant and ready food source. Even when the plaque is removed thoroughly, caries cannot be stopped.


The bacteria develop their own dynamic. A Toothache usually occurs when caries has reached the tooth nerves. In this case, a root treatment is necessary because the bacteria have infected the nerve.

Consequences of tooth decay

Today, common caries is more easily understandable. Common caries can mean bridges, crowns, partial prostheses, and sometimes even complete prostheses by the age of 50. We usually have bad teeth in our mouth corner areas. People often wash their teeth superficially because their minds are on other things or they are deceived by the fresh feelings that come from the toothpaste. These lead us to brush the front properly but not the side teeth that have some consequences. This is why we first get fillings on the sides. Hidden layers of plaque, especially in the gaps between the teeth, lead to the destruction of the enamel. Caries also causes gum inflammation or periodontitis. Combined with bad dental work and sometimes the lack of proper information, these conditions lead most people to have bad teeth, even no teeth, in the side areas at the age of 50. Therefore, regular oral hygiene, quality dental work, and enough information prevent the formation of dental caries and guarantee your healthy dental system, and a beautiful smile!

Sean A., a specialist in ultrasonics, a medical writer, and the head of a team of medical writers including a urologist, an orthopedist, a psychiatrist, and a dentist.

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