Dental Disease Overview


©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Cavities, decayed pits in the tooth's surface, must be drilled out and filled.

When plaque accumulates in your mouth very rapidly, the acid-forming bacteria that colonize it start working immediately to break down your teeth's enamel. Holes in the enamel that have been eaten away by bacteria are called cavities (or caries), and these decayed pits in the tooth's surface must be drilled out and filled. There are three primary types of caries:

Pit-and-fissure caries form on the chewing surfaces of bicuspids and molars. Because of the uneven shape of these surfaces, they are the hardest to clean. Most people also have occasional dents and imperfections in these teeth, making them a target for bacterial decay.

Smooth-surface caries form on the smooth surfaces between your teeth. These caries are caused by prolonged exposure to acids (usually due to infrequent or improper cleaning).

Root caries, as their name implies, are found on the roots of your teeth. Decay in this area, too, is caused by prolonged exposure to plaque acids. Root caries are most evident in older people and those who have had extensive dental work or whose gums have eroded, exposing them to damaging acids.

The periodontal diseases gingivitis and periodontitis can lead to severe dental problems, including tooth loss. Keep reading to learn how to prevent and treat periodontal disease.

Your teeth need lots of care and attention to ensure life-long good oral health. Visit the links below for more information about protecting and caring for your teeth.

  • Good oral hygine is important for oral health as well as overall health. In How Oral Hygiene Works, learn how to best take care of your pearly whites. 
  • Do you wish your teeth had just a bit more sparkle to them? How Tooth Whitening Works takes a look at procedures you can undergo to brighten and whiten your teeth.
  • When you have an ache in your teeth, getting rid of it is the only thought in your head. In How to Relieve a Tooth Ache, find out how to deal with dental distress.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.