How do bacteria cause tooth decay

Tooth decay: what is it?

Dentistry differentiates between the following three types of tooth decay:

  • Enamel caries / dentine caries: Enamel or dentine caries is the most common type of caries.
  • Root caries: With age, the gums retreat and expose parts of the tooth root. Since the roots are not protected by tooth enamel, they get caries much more quickly.

Everyone should check their teeth regularly. The first visible signs are white spots - so-called "white spots" - in the tooth enamel. First of all, a rough surface is created on the tooth enamel. This promotes the adhesion of plaque. If caries is discovered in this initial stage (initial caries), the incipient destruction of the tooth enamel can often be stopped by intensive oral hygiene and increased use of fluorides.

As the disease progresses, the affected areas usually turn yellowish-brown. The tooth decay gradually penetrates the tooth enamel and attacks the dentin. Often the first pain is noticeable now. Caries causes great pain at the latest when it has reached the nerve of the tooth and it becomes infected.

NoteThe onset of dental caries is not always visible from the outside. Bitewing X-rays should therefore be taken every year in order to be able to detect caries in the clinically poorly visible posterior region early enough. For some time now there have also been alternative laser-based devices that can be used to "shine through" the interdental spaces in order to detect caries. However, these are not yet entirely reliable. Therefore, this examination is not yet paid for by the social security agencies. In any case, only your dentist can say for sure whether tooth decay has formed. Regular visits to the dentist can help detect and treat tooth decay in good time. If tooth decay is left untreated, a hole will form in the tooth enamel. In the worst case, it can lead to tooth loss.