Dental caries (dental decay) are the most common instance of bacterial infection in the developed world. The incidence is declining primarily due to the use of fluoride toothpaste.
Dental caries are decayed areas of teeth, destroyed in a process in which there is decalcification of the enamel - by lactic acid - which results in destruction of the enamel and dentin, and, ultimately, to cavitation of the tooth. The lactic acid is generated by commensal oral bacteria as a by-product of carbohydrate metabolism, especially of refined sugar products.
Tooth decay occurs most often just below the contact points of adjacent tooth crowns, and the deep fissures and pits on the biting surface of the premolars and molars. These sites are difficult to clean via tooth brushing.
Last reviewed 01/2018