Dental caries develops when the so-called cariogenic factors that release minerals from the teeth outweigh the mineral-producing factors and the balance is upset.
In this case, the dental enamel continuously loses its mineral content and then it gets thin and breaks down. The strength of the ‘attack’ on the teeth depends on five factors: plaque, carbohydrate, remains of food in the mouth, frequency of meals and lack of protective factors.


• Plaque: dental caries develops when bacteria are present in the mouth, decomposing carbohydrates, producing acid and a sticky substance that contributes to plaque formation. The bacteria continue to live in this plaque and they produce acid.
• Carbohydrate: foods and drinks containing fermentable carbohydrates contribute to acid production.
• Remains of food in the mouth: The length of time that food remains in the mouth influences the development of dental caries. The longer food is in the mouth, the more damage it can cause.
• Frequency of meals: the more often acid-producing foods are eaten, the greater the risk of development of dental caries. Frequent acid attacks increase the time it takes for minerals to be extracted and reduce the chance of recovery.
• Lack of protective factors: cariogenic factors are counteracted by various protective factors: saliva (has an effect on bacteria, plaque formation and the structure of the dental enamel), fluoride (strengthens the dental enamel, promotes mineral restoration, prevents bacterial proliferation and acid production), plaque removal (brushing and mouth rinsing) and the use of pit and fissure sealants (protective coatings that fill the fissures and pits in the dental enamel). Their absence contributes to faster tooth decay.


Did you know that:

– dieters put their teeth at particular risk because their diets are rich in acidic raw vegetables, fruits, juices and herbal teas;
– the risk of tooth decay is increased in the case of athletes (who often consume acidic, energy sports drinks) and in case of people who maintain their weight by vomiting;
– brushing immediately after meals may be harmful because it further abrades teeth exposed to acidity during meals;
– drinking soft drinks and tea slowly is more damaging to teeth than drinking the same drinks quickly, as teeth are in contact with acid for a longer period of time;
– the amount of sugar consumed between meals is more damaging to the dentition than when the same amount of sugar is consumed as part of a main meal;
– a study in the Netherlands showed that the number of children with healthy teeth did not increase during the period when dentists encouraged them to reduce their sugar intake.