What is tooth decay and how does it develop?

Tooth decay is the most widespread non-communicable disease in the world. In Germany, too, every adult is affected by caries on average several times during his or her life.

In order to understand exactly how caries develops, let's take a closer look at the structure of the tooth: The tooth consists roughly of two parts - the tooth root and the tooth crown. The root of the tooth is in the jawbone.

The crown of the tooth, on the other hand, protrudes “unprotected” into the oral cavity. This tooth crown gets the caries. Plaque builds up on their surface every day just from the flow of saliva and food intake. Malignant bacteria settle within this plaque, which in turn causes tooth decay. This happens as follows: The outer, visible part of the tooth crown is made of tooth enamel. This consists mainly of hydroxyapatite. This is an inorganic material similar in structure to marble and hard as stone. Bacteria cannot feed on this.

Beneath the enamel, however, is the tooth bone (also called dentine). Since the dentin consists partly of organic material, it represents a potential food source for bacteria.

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