Caries and how to prevent it

The bacteria in the plaque react with the sugar in the food we eat and produce acids that can attack and weaken the tooth enamel (hard, protective tissue on the tooth), paving the way for caries to develop.

What is caries?

Caries manifest as a cavity inside the tooth, which remains after the carious tissue is removed. The three most common places in the teeth where tooth decay occurs:


Dental caries occur when the plaque remains trapped in the fissures on the tooth. It is the most common tooth decay in children because they often do not clean these areas while brushing their teeth.

Caries between teeth occurs when plaque remains unclean between teeth, in areas that are otherwise difficult to reach with a brush. As these areas cannot be brushed, it is necessary to regularly clean the areas between the teeth with floss.

Caries on the surface of the root of the tooth is caused by the withdrawal of the gingiva or bone loss, which is associated with periodontitis. Also, this caries is more common with aging as the gingiva begins to withdraw. If the plaque remains on the exposed tooth root surfaces that are not protected by the enamel, caries begins to develop more quickly.


How to prevent caries development?

Fortunately, you can lightly prevent caries from developing if you have the correct oral hygiene habits. Here is a list of things to do:

  • brush thoroughly twice a day with a soft brush - preferably in the morning and before going to bed;
  • use fluoridated toothpaste - fluorides have been proven to help prevent tooth decay;
  • clean the areas between your teeth every day that you cannot reach with a brush;
  • eat healthy foods and avoid frequent snacking on sweets and sugary drinks;
  • visit your dentist regularly - at least once every six months, for cleaning and examination;
  • dentists recommend replacing the toothbrush at least every three months or earlier if it has worn out.

Research shows that new brushes remove more plaque than those three or more months old.


How often do you visit the dentist?

You need to schedule a visit to the dentist twice a year for examinations. Although the examinations may vary, your dentist will most often examine your teeth and gingiva for possible problems. They can also do an X-ray to make sure there are no hidden issues. They can also professionally clean your teeth to remove soft and hard deposits (stones) above or below the gingiva level and polish them, thus removing plaque and stains on the tooth surface.

And don't forget: your dentist can give you expert guidance in brushing and flossing

Cavity Prevention | Are They Contagious? (October 2020)