Caries (tooth decay)

Causes of caries include, among other things, insufficient oral hygiene, malpositioned teeth and excessive consumption of sugar.

Overview

Causes of caries include, among other things, insufficient oral hygiene, malpositioned teeth and excessive consumption of sugar. The disorder starts on the tooth surface (tooth enamel) and progresses to the root if left untreated. Symptoms include, for example, oversensitivity to heat, cold and sugar, visible stains on the tooth surface and bleeding gums. Careful dental hygiene is therefore important.

Symptoms

  • White or brown stains on the tooth surface
  • Pain/oversensitivity to heat, cold and sugar
  • Bleeding gums
  • Gingivitis
  • Plaque (calculus or tartar on the teeth)
  • Bad breath
  • Loosening of teeth

Causes and treatment

Causes

Softening and increasing dissolution of hard tooth tissue

  • Insufficient dental hygiene, oral hygiene
  • Malpositioned teeth
  • Bacteria (during digestion of food)
  • Excessive sugar consumption
  • Acidic foods
  • Malnutrition
  • Frequent vomiting (bulimia, various other diseases)
  • Too little saliva (e.g. after radiation)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Inspection of tooth
  • Inspection with dental probe
  • Examination with strong light
  • X-ray, if necessary
Possible therapies
  • Professional dental restoration (caries must be treated by dentist)
  • Professional dental hygiene, plaque removal (1-2x/year)
  • Root canal treatment, if necessary
  • Fluoride varnish

What can I do myself?

  • Regular and thorough dental and oral care
    • Cleaning of teeth (see below)
    • Mouthwash
    • Remove fur on tongue (tongue scraper)
    • Dental floss, interdental brush (1x/day)
    • Regularly replace toothbrush/brush head, etc.
  • Cleaning of teeth
    • At least 2x/day
    • After snacks between meals
    • Fluoride toothpaste
    • Fluoride gel (1x/week)
  • Regular dental check-ups (1x/year)
  • Dental hygiene (dental hygienist)
  • Diet
    • Reduce consumption of sugary and acidic foods/beverages
    • Use fluoridated, iodised salt to prepare food
    • Firm food that is difficult to chew promotes the production of saliva (protective)
  • Dental hygiene for children
    • Must start with the first milk tooth
    • At least 2x/day
    • After snacks between meals
    • Fluoride toothpaste for children
    • Limit consumption of sugar

When to see a doctor?

  • Generally when you think you have a “hole”
  • Pain, discomfort when eating sweet, hot or cold food
  • White or brown stains on the teeth
  • Regular bleeding of gums
  • Pain when chewing

Further information

Swiss Dental Association (Schweizerische Zahnärzte Gesellschaft)
www.sso.ch

Schweizerische Vereinigung für Kinderzahnmedizin (Swiss Society of Paediatric Dentistry)
www.kinderzahn.ch

Synonyms

caries, dental caries, tooth decay

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

CSS Insurance – your health partner

Being healthy, getting well or living with illness: as your health partner, CSS Insurance is by your side on your journey through life.

Well looked