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Tooth Decay

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Close Encounters of the Microbial Kind


Dental caries (tooth decay) involves the destruction of tooth enamel and dentine by the acids produced by certain bacteria when they are supplied with high levels of sugars from our diet. The bacteria responsible are mainly species belonging to the genera Streptococcus , Lactobacillus and Actinomyces that live in biofilms (dental plaque) on the tooth surface. It’s a very common disease, particularly in developed countries, and affects 35% of the global population. It’s treated by mechanical removal of the decayed regions of the tooth and replacing these with any of a variety of restorative materials. It can be prevented by regular removal of dental plaque using a toothbrush and dental floss. Fluoride-containing toothpastes and mouthwashes are also very useful as they make tooth enamel more resistant to damage by acids.

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Wilson, M., Wilson, P.J.K. (2021). Tooth Decay. In: Close Encounters of the Microbial Kind. Springer, Cham.

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