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Health Condition

Tooth Decay

About This Condition

Tooth decay is the gradual breakdown of the tooth, beginning with the enamel surface and eventually progressing to the inner pulp.

Tooth decay is caused by acids produced by certain mouth bacteria in dental plaque. Factors that affect this process include oral hygiene, diet, meal frequency, saliva production, and heredity. Teeth with significant decay are said to have caries, or cavities.

Symptoms

People with tooth decay may have tooth pain, including sensitivity to cold food and drinks.

Other Therapies

Treatment includes daily brushing of teeth with toothpaste (especially after meals), flossing, limiting sugar in the diet, and regular professional teeth cleanings by a dental hygienist. Dentists commonly apply fillings to dental cavities. Topical fluoride applications or sealants (plastic coatings that form a barrier between bacteria and the chewing surfaces of the teeth) may be recommended.

References

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2. Stensson M, Koch G, Coric S, et al. Oral administration of Lactobacillus reuteri during the first year of life reduces caries prevalence in the primary dentition at 9 years of age. Caries Res 2014;48:111–7.

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4. Trahan L. Xylitol: a review of its action on mutans streptococci and dental plaque—its clinical significance. Int Dent J 1995;45(1 Suppl 1):77-92 [review].

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9. Soderling E, Isokangas P, Pienihakkinen K, et al. Influence of maternal xylitol consumption on mother-child transmission of mutans streptococci: 6-year follow-up. Caries Res 2001;35:173-7.

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12. Milgrom P, Ly KA, Tut OK, et al. Xylitol pediatric topical oral syrup to prevent dental caries: a double-blind randomized clinical trial of efficacy. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2009;163:601-7.

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14. Pai MR, Acharya LD, Udupa N. Evaluation of antiplaque activity of Azadirachta indica leaf extract gel—a 6-week clinical study. J Ethnopharmacol2004;90:99-103.

15. Pai MR, Acharya LD, Udupa N. The effect of two different dental gels and a mouthwash on plaque and gingival scores: a six-week clinical study. Int Dent J 2004;54:219-23.

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18. Cohen A, Rubin C. Pyridoxine supplementation in the suppression of dental caries. Bull Phila County Dent Soc 1958;22:84.

19. Harel-Raviv M, Laskaris M, Chu KS. Dental caries and sugar consumption into the 21st century. Am J Dent 1996;9:184-90 [review].

20. Strontium and dental caries. Nutr Rev 1983;41:342-4 [review].

21. Price WA. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. New York: Hoeber, 1939.

22. Jenkins GN, Forster MG, Speirs RL, et al. The influence of the refinement of carbohydrates on their cariogenicity. In vitro experiments on white and brown flour. Br Dent J 1959;106:195-208.

23. Cook HA. Phosphates and caries. Lancet 1968;i:1431.[letter]

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25. Harris NO, Garcia-Godoy F (eds.). Primary Preventive Dentistry, 5th ed. Stamford: Appleton & Lange, 1999, 93-5.

26. Ellwood RP, Blinkhorn AS, Davies RM. Fluoride: how to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks. Dent Update 1998;25:365-72.

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28. Matte TD, Reducing blood lead levels: benefits and strategies. JAMA 1999;281:2340-1.

29. Fure S, Gahnberg L, Birkhed D. A comparison of four home-care fluoride programs on the caries incidence in the elderly. Gerodontology 1998;15(2):51-60.

30. Petersson LG, Svanholm I, Andersson H, Magnusson K. Approximal caries development following intensive fluoride mouthrinsing in teenagers. A 3-year radiographic study. Eur J Oral Sci 1998;106:1048-51.

31. Driscoll WS, Nowjack-Raymer R, Selwitz RH, et al. A comparison of the caries-preventive effects of fluoride mouthrinsing, fluoride tablets, and both procedures combined: final results after eight years. J Public Health Dent 1992;52:111-6.

32. Ellwood RP, Blinkhorn AS, Davies RM. Fluoride: how to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks. Dent Update 1998;25:365-72.

33. DePaola DP, Faine MP, Palmer CA. Nutrition in relation to dental medicine. In: Shils ME, Olson JA, Shike M, Ross AC, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 9th ed. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkens, 1999, 1110-2.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.

Drugs used to treat TOOTH DECAY. Select drug name to view medication information and pricing