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Dental caries

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Dental caries is commonly referred to as cavities or tooth decay. Dental caries is a highly preventable disease that is caused by a variety of factors.


Causes for dental
caries

The most common causative factor is consumption of a diet rich in carbohydrates and sugars. Fruit and select dairy products, vegetables and starches also contain carbohydrates that can be broken down by the bacteria to release acids that cause tooth decay.1

Dental caries is generally caused by a microorganism known as Streptococcus mutans, which is present in the mouth.1 

The risk of caries not only depends upon the type of food consumed but also on the duration for which the food remains in the mouth. Long-lasting sources of sugars, such ashard candies, breath mints, and lollipops have extended exposuretime in the oral cavity and are associated with increased risk 2, 3.

 

Symptoms for dental caries

The earliest symptom of caries is the tingling sensation or pain when one eats sweets. Consulting a dentist is necessary if one has any such complaints and also if one notices discoloration of the tooth.

Pain felt only when drinking something cold or eating a sweet indicates that the tooth is still healthy and can be restored to prevent further progress. Long-standing pain suggests further decay that needs more extensive treatment than a simple filling and leading to complications such as swelling if not treated.

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Diet Recommendations for Preventing Dental Caries

  • Eat a balanced diet, which is rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • Consume sweets and other sticky foods with meals.
  • Add raw fruit or vegetables to meals to increase salivary flow.
  • Rinse mouth with water, chew sugarless gum and eat dairy product such as cheese after the consumption of any sticky food.
  • Chew sugarless gum between meals and snacks to increase salivary flow. 
  • Drink, rather than sip, sweetened and acidic beverages.

Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: March 26, 2013