Caries – causes, symptoms & treatment


Caries respectively. tooth decay with the typical causes of toothache and dark discoloration of the teeth, is one of the most common infectious diseases in Europe. Caries is caused by bacteria that settle around the teeth and attack the enamel. Teeth that have not been cleaned and that have sugar-containing food residues between the corners are particularly popular with caries bacteria.

Table of Contents

What is tooth decay?

The dental disease Caries is one of the most common diseases in industrialized countries. Almost every person is affected by this disease at least once in their life. Caries affects the upper and rear teeth significantly more often; the outbreak of the disease also increases at a certain age. Children between the ages of four and eleven, as well as men and women between the ages of 55 and 65, often develop this tooth disease.

Basically, however, tooth decay is a disease that can occur at any age and can also affect every tooth. Adequate oral hygiene and dental care can already help prevent tooth decay. The right brushing technique is just as important here as the regular replacement of the toothbrush, namely at least every three months. After brushing your teeth, you should not miss to rinse your mouth with a mouthwash for at least 30 seconds. Of course, regular visits to the dentist and a tooth-healthy diet with little sugar are also important to prevent tooth decay from occurring.


In addition, the amount and composition of human saliva can play a role in the development of caries. An increased amount of saliva leads to a better removal of the food and thus gives harmful bacteria less chance of spreading.

Symptoms, complaints & sign

At the beginning of caries, the infection often runs without noticeable symptoms. The so-called initial caries can occur without any visible signs. In advanced stages, tooth decay leads to visible holes in the teeth, as the substance is broken down by the metabolites of the bacteria. It is also possible for a tooth to be hollowed out.

The holes are usually darkly colored. In the event of severe caries, a tooth can be completely lost. If the tooth residue is not removed by a dentist in such a case, a dark stump remains. Visible holes and dark discolourations do not always form on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Caries can also develop on the inside or between the teeth.

In addition to the visible symptoms, tooth decay can lead to a number of other complaints. This includes toothache, which can vary in severity. Permanent toothache is also possible. The bad breath may also persist after brushing your teeth or may reappear shortly after brushing your teeth.

Teeth that are affected by caries can be extremely sensitive. For example, they react increasingly to heat, cold or the consumption of certain foods. The sensations range from an increased awareness of the stimulus or a pull to severe pain. Bad breath may also occur as a result of tooth decay.


Will the disease Caries If not treated properly, in the worst case not only the enamel will be attacked, but possibly also the tooth nerve.

In the worst case, this can lead to failure of the affected tooth. In the early stages, tooth decay is usually noticeable through light or brown spots on the teeth, the so-called caries spots. Later, these can turn dark and even black.

At this stage of the disease, the tooth decay is already painful; at the latest now a dentist should be consulted as soon as possible. The loss or loosening of existing fillings can be another indication of an existing tooth decay.

A side effect of caries, which is observed by many patients, is the sensitivity to pain both hot, cold or sweet food.


Anyone who leaves this clinical picture without any treatment exposes himself to a great risk. The bacteria will continue to decompose the tooth, so the pain will also increase significantly. It is not uncommon for an inflammation to develop in this context, which forms directly under the tooth. An abscess may even develop.

An abscess is a cavity filled with pus. If the bacteria in it get into the human bloodstream, there is even a risk of blood poisoning. In the worst case, there is an acute danger to life if this complication remains without any treatment.

The following applies: Caries can also cause various complications if the visit to the doctor is put on the back burner. Complications can only be avoided or recognized early and treated explicitly by medical treatment.

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When to go to the doctor?

People suffering from any form of toothache should see a dentist as soon as possible. Since spontaneous healing only occurs in exceptional cases, a visit to the doctor is advisable from the first pain sensations. If the person suffers from hypersensitivity in the mouth when warm or cold food is fed, there are irregularities that should be clarified. If you feel a pulling or aching sensation while consuming sweet or sour food or liquids, you need to see a doctor.

If the symptoms spread to surrounding teeth or jaws or increase in intensity, dental treatment is required. Otherwise the affected person may lose teeth or permanent dentures. If there is a build-up of food residues in the interdental spaces, holes in the teeth are noticed or existing dentures loosen, a doctor should be consulted. If the people in the vicinity notice an unusual bad breath in the person affected or if there are unusual discolorations of the teeth, a doctor should be consulted.

Chalk-like stains on the teeth are particularly worrying. If the affected person feels a light knock on the tooth as painful or very uncomfortable, this is an indication of an existing caries disease. If an abscess forms, a visit to the doctor is also necessary.

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treatment & therapy

Treatment of Caries depends on how far the disease has progressed. In the case of deeper tooth defects, the affected area is treated with the drill and the caries removed. Local anesthesia of the tooth nerve is usually performed here.

Laser technology is an option that has become increasingly popular recently. in this the patient feels no pain. The holes created by drilling are closed with special tooth fillings, usually with amalgam.

The dentist usually recognizes tooth decay by looking into the mouth. In the early stages, x-rays also provide information. If the caries is already more advanced and the tooth nerve is affected, the treating doctor will strive for a root filling.

view & forecast

With today’s medical options, there is a good chance of a cure for a caries disease. As soon as caries is diagnosed, treatment follows immediately. The dentist removes the affected areas in the mouth and tries to cure the disease by professional tooth cleaning and protection against an immediate new infestation of the bacteria. The possibilities of protection, however, are not permanent. Immediately the next time you eat food, new bacteria can get into your mouth, which can only be removed by adequate tooth cleaning.

Without dental care, the person affected cannot achieve a cure. If tooth decay has already broken out, the possibilities of self-help are not sufficient to achieve recovery. The bacteria multiply in the mouth and cause further damage to the teeth. Immediately after the dental decay has been removed, it is the patient’s own responsibility to optimize their teeth cleaning immediately. This is the only way to prevent re-infestation.

The causes of the disease are discussed in treatment and should be taken seriously by the patient. A change in behavior is imperative so that permanent freedom from complaints is achieved. Otherwise, new bacteria develop in the mouth, which in turn attack the teeth and cause damage. In the worst case, tooth loss occurs.


Aftercare of caries is also the basis of successful prevention. It is about protecting the teeth from renewed carious destruction. A sugar-free diet is the basis, which is flanked by cleaning with the right technology and at regular intervals.

Professional tooth cleaning once or twice a year is particularly important in this context. It also removes hard plaque, the so-called tartar, and soft deposits. Places where the toothbrush does not clean thoroughly, such as the interdental spaces or the gum line, are recorded. The PZR is prevention and aftercare at the same time for caries and periodontitis.

Brushing your teeth after meals is very important. Make sure you use a brush that is not too hard and thus attacks the tooth enamel. Dental floss, interdental brushes and the use of an oral irrigator after thorough cleaning are suitable to capture the interdental spaces as best as possible. The toothbrush should be changed regularly so that cleaning remains effective.

After cleaning, it is best to rinse with hot water and then to dry it, so that no bacteria multiply on it, which cause tooth decay. Of course, every person in the household needs their own toothbrush in this context. Children are to be introduced to the cleaning technology in an age-appropriate manner. Parents should carefully control this for their children’s dental health.

You can do that yourself

Accompanying this, attention should be paid to increased oral hygiene. In addition to the usual recommendations – brush your teeth carefully at least twice a day for three minutes – comprehensive interdental care is recommended. Regular dental cleaning by the dentist is even better. For children, it is also advisable to seal the teeth.

In order to prevent tooth decay from spreading, the diet should also be changed: fruits and vegetables instead of sweets, and mineral water instead of lemonade. Smoking is recommended to stop smoking, while coffee drinkers should switch to unsweetened tea. In addition, various home remedies for caries help. Ground nutmeg, which is applied to the hole in the tooth with a little clove oil and which kills the bacteria, has proven itself. Salt water and garlic have a similar effect. Clove oil and applications with anise or chamomile help against the pain.

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Christina Cherry
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