What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay is a preventable disease!

The bacteria associated with tooth decay are commonly transmitted from the mother or other caregiver to the baby. A baby is born with no tooth decay bacteria. The baby’s caregiver can pass these bacteria to the baby by kissing or sharing food. If a new mother has no tooth decay-causing bacteria, she will not infect the baby.

What is a cavity?

A cavity results from loss of minerals in a tooth. Specific bacteria in the mouth consume sugars and produce acid. Acid attack removes essential minerals from your tooth (demineralization). If there isn’t enough protection for the tooth (healthy saliva with essential minerals) the enamel will eventually break down and cause a cavity.

Cavities are preventable!

What is dental caries?

Caries refers to the process of tooth decay that may lead to a cavity. Tooth loss may result if left unchecked.

What is caries risk?

Risk is the chance that something will happen in the future. There are known disease indicators that increase a patient’s risk of developing cavities. Certain protective factors reduce a patient’s risk of developing cavities. Disease indicators and risk factors include recent cavities, frequent snacking, family history of cavities, reduced saliva flow and orthodontic appliances.

Protective factors include proper diet, topical fluoride sources, adequate saliva flow, regular brushing and flossing, and use of xylitol.

A patient can reduce their risk of future cavities by decreasing the factors that contribute to the disease, and increasing protective factors.

What does ‘low, moderate or high caries’ risk mean?

  • A patient at low caries risk generally has no active cavities, no visible plaque, regular dental care, optimal fluoride exposure and proper diet.
  • A patient at moderate caries risk can have no cavities, but may have visible plaque, irregular dental care, and inadequate fluoride and diet.
  • A patient at high caries risk may have one or more cavities, visible plaque, irregular dental care, reduced saliva flow, poor dietary habits, and recreational drug use.