Diseases & Conditions : Oral Health
Tooth Decay (Caries or Cavities)
What is tooth decay (caries or cavities)?
Tooth decay is the disease known as caries or cavities -- a highly preventable disease caused by bacteria with many contributing factors.
Who is at risk for tooth decay?
The answer is that everyone who has a mouth is at risk for tooth decay. We all host bacteria in our mouths which makes everyone a potential target for cavities. Risk factors that put a person at a higher risk for tooth decay include:
A diet high in sweets, carbohydrates, and sugars
Living in communities with limited or no fluoridated water supplies
Poor oral hygiene
Reduced salivary flow
Being a child
Being an older adult
Preventing tooth decay
Preventing tooth decay and cavities involves five simple steps:
Brush your teeth and tongue twice a day, for 4-5 minutes at a time, with a fluoridated toothpaste.
Floss your teeth daily.
Eat a well-balanced diet and limit or eliminate sugary snacks.
Consult your physician or dentist regarding the supplemental use of fluoride and/or dental sealants to protect teeth against bacteria.
Schedule routine (every six months) dental cleanings and examinations for yourself and your family.