What are dental caries?
Dental caries are also referred to as dental cavities or dental decay. Dental caries are caused by specific types of oral bacteria. These types of oral bacteria produce harmful acids that attack the tooth’s outer enamel layer. These acids can wear through the outer layer and affect the layer under the enamel, known as dentin.
What is dental plaque?
The mouth contains many types of oral bacteria, some of which are beneficial and some that are harmful. These oral bacteria can build up together, which results in dental plaque. Dental plaque is characterized by its sticky feel, especially when your tongue rubs against it. Plaque is comprised of food debris, saliva, and other substances. It quickly forms in cracks, pits or grooves of the molar or back teeth. It is also commonly found in between teeth and near the gum line.
How do caries form?
When foods that contain carbohydrates and sugars are eaten, the bacteria interacts with these foods and creates harmful acids. These acids erode the minerals located in the enamel layer of the tooth. This series of events leads to erosion of the enamel that begins on a small scale and gets progressively larger.
Once the enamel layer has worn away, the acids then attack the dentin layer that is located under the enamel. This causes decay or a cavity in the tooth. Left untreated, the decay will progress into the tooth’s pulp, causing pain and possibly tooth loss.
Exposed tooth roots caused by gum recession are also at risk of developing caries. The layer around the tooth root is not as thick as the enamel layer, so acids will erode this layer quickly.
It is important to floss regularly to remove the dental plaque. Brushing at least twice a day is also necessary to remove dental plaque. If you experience sensitivity or pain in any of your teeth, let you dentist know.