What is Dental Caries?

20 March 2024

What Is Dental Caries?

Dental Caries, also known as tooth decay, can affect people of all ages. It is caused by a combination of eating a diet high in sugar and poor oral hygiene.  

Teeth are covered by a ‘biofilm’ which is a community of microorganisms known as plaque. If the plaque biofilm is not removed daily with adequate brushing and interdental cleaning, it turns the sugar we eat into acid which decay’s the tooth creating small holes known as cavities. Tooth decay can lead to pain, halitosis (bad breath), brown looking teeth, infection (tooth abscess) and tooth loss.

How Can Dental Caries Be Prevented?

Prevention is key to maintaining a healthy smile. Once a caries has progressed into a cavity, the damage to the enamel cannot be reversed. However if detected early enough, caries can often be halted before it becomes a cavity. In the early stages, most people will have no symptoms at all and unless told by their dental professional, will be totally unaware. Regular checks are imperative if cavities are to be prevented.  

Limit sugary treats to mealtimes only. Just like the rest of your body, your mouth needs a balanced pH. The pH level of your saliva (spit) can drop when you eat and drink sugary or acidic things. When this happens, the acids start to demineralise (break down) the tooth enamel and it takes your mouth around 3 hours to return to a healthy balanced pH. The more acid attacks, the more likely the pH will be held in an acidic state and not allowed to return to health.  

Maintain a healthy, balanced diet and reduce your intake of sugar, carbonated drinks and acidic foods. Choosing foods that have a low sugar content but also require lots of crunching and chewing, will help to cleanse the teeth and stimulate saliva.

Maintain a good oral hygiene routine: Brush your teeth morning and night with fluoride toothpaste and use interdental aids to remove plaque and food debris from in between your teeth. Fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel and can be found in toothpaste, mouth rinses and in some flosses. Chewing sugar free gum after meals can also help to remove food particles and bacteria but shouldn’t be used in place of good brushing.

Professional dental cleaning: this helps to prevent dental caries and gum disease by disturbing the plaque biofilm from the more difficult to reach areas. Your dental professional can also check your home-care regime and offer up-to-date diet advice.

How Can Guided BiofilmTherapy (GBT) Help With Caries Prevention?

Guided Biofilm Therapy is a dental cleaning protocol that uses the latest pain free technology to help to prevent dental caries in the following ways:

  • Thorough dental cleaning: using gentle airflow and no pain cleaning technology, GBT effectively removes all detectable plaque, tartar and staining from the tooth surface even in difficult to reach areas. This improves visibility for the dental professional who is more likely to identify changes to the enamel on a clean tooth surface.
  • Biofilm Discloser: GBT uses a coloured dye called biofilm discloser to make plaque biofilm more visible. This helping to identify areas where the biofilm is growing and where the patient needs to clean more thoroughly (usually in the dark & sheltered areas between the teeth and under the gums) It also helps the dental professional to see which areas to target to ensure all deposits and stains are removed guaranteeing the teeth are left 100% biofilm free every time.  
  • Education: diet analysis and bespoke oral hygiene instruction, guided by the disclosed biofilm, forms part of every GBT appointment. Patients are taught which cleaning techniques to use and what lifestyle changes could be made to reduce the risk of dental disease.  
  • Child friendly. Children, irrespective of age, should learn the importance of looking after their teeth to prevent decay. If this is done properly, and from a young age, they will likely avoid having fillings for their entire life. GBT is gentle, pain free and safe to use on anyone over 2 years of age. The use of coloured dye can be fun for young children and aids visual learning.
  • Fluoride Application: fluoride prevents tooth decay by making the enamel more resistant to acid attacks. In some cases it can reverse the start of early decay. At the end of your GBT appointment, a fresh fluoride foam is applied to the teeth to help strengthen the enamel and prevent decay.  
  • Recall frequency: The mouth can be a very intimate and sensitive area especially when diseased, so the time to meet with your dental professional is when you are healthy, happy and open to engagement. Because GBT offers a pain free dental cleaning experience, patients are more likely to want to return for regular visits, increasing the frequency at which their teeth are reviewed and preventative advise & treatment are given.  

All dental disease is preventable. With the right approach and regular GBT visits, you may never need a filling again!