How Does Tooth Decay Occur?

A routine dental check-up

A beautiful, healthy and a big smile is always admired and remembered. A well maintained, perfect set of teeth and healthy gum change the way a person feels and boosts their confidence too. Unfortunately, sometimes these pearly teeth get unpleasant and change its colour ranging from yellow to black. To prevent the teeth from getting decayed correct dental health and hygiene should be practised. Healthy teeth help us chew food properly, pronounce words clearly, give shape to our face, makes us smile always and look our best too. Taking care for our teeth in the right way can also prevent us from the painful and dreaded dental cavity.

Let us understand how tooth decay. Tooth decay can be the result of a combination of factors such as plague, not maintaining proper oral hygiene and consuming lots of sugar and starch. A hard substance called enamel covers the outer layer of the tooth. When the sugars and starch particles are left unclean, the bacteria in the mouth start feeding on them and form a soft, slimy, sticky substance called plaque. The plaque then hardens above the gum lines and further develops into tartar (calculus). The bacteria present within the plaque release acids which acts in the corrosion of minerals present in the enamel. This erosion of the enamel causes tiny holes. These holes when left unattended eventually grow larger and become cavities. Cavities are also called caries or tooth decay. Tooth decay causes swelling, pain, irritation, missing/broken tooth, chewing problems and serious infections when it spread inside the tissues, nerves and blood vessels of the teeth.

To keep our teeth and gums healthy one must brush teeth twice a day daily (once in the morning and the other at night), rinse mouth, avoiding sugary and starchy food and regular dental check-ups at least twice a year.


Informed Health Online [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Tooth decay: Overview. 2006 Mar 17 [Updated 2017 Sep 21].

Dental caries (tooth decay). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

External links:

Dental Health Foundation – Dental Caries

American Dental Association – Tooth Decay

Last Updated: March 24, 2019

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