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Caries

What are caries?


You have probably sometimes heard of people with a hole in the tooth. This means that the tooth has caries. Caries is an infectious disease that can destroy all our teeth if not adequately treated.


What can cause us to have caries?

Sugar is the best friend of caries. When we eat a lot of sugary food it is easy to leave remains between the teeth. Once they get between the teeth, sugar, food remains and bacteria which we all have in our mouths join forces to start caries.
 

 


What is a tooth like?

The teeth in our mouth help us chew food and speak correctly. Moreover, nice clean teeth make a pretty smile.

Children have 20 teeth, including molars, distributed as follows. At 6 years of age, 4 permanent molars appear - one in each quadrant of the mouth. These are the only teeth that do not erupt a second time. It is therefore very important to take good care of them. Small children have so-called milk teeth, and these are soon replaced by new permanent teeth that can no longer be replaced. They must therefore be cared for, since they have to last us a lifetime.

A tooth consists of different parts: external or crown — the part we see — and internal or root, the part we cannot see because it is housed in the bone of the jaws. The enamel is the outermost layer of the crown. This part is very hard — even harder than bone. Beneath the enamel lies the dentine, which is not so hard, and beneath the dentine we find the dental pulp, which is sensitive to hot and cold foods, sweets or acids.

Some animals have no teeth (birds, for example), while others have a double row of teeth (like sharks). It all depends on what kind of food they eat. In this way, a crocodile, which spends its time eating big things needs good teeth, while a cow or rabbit (which eat grass), don’t need such big teeth. Teeth have different shapes because they have different functions: grinding, chewing, etc. And when eating, they have to function properly.


What happens when caries attack?

When we eat too much sweet or sugar-containing food, or when we fail to brush our teeth after each meal, the bacteria in our mouth use the food remains as a source of energy, decomposing them and releasing acids which in turn attack the enamel of the teeth.

These sugars also facilitate the formation of so-called bacterial plaque, a film-like layer that covers the teeth and facilitates the development of caries. This is why we must brush our teeth to not loose the battle against caries.


Remember

Caries is a multifactor disease (sugar, bacteria, teeth). If you don’t want to have caries, avoid sugary foods and brush your teeth after each meal.

 

Mercè Camps Miró. Dermopharmacy Member of the Barcelona Professional Association of Pharmacists.