Dental Caries – Dr Tan


Hello, it has been a while since my last post. Hope you are doing well.

I’d like to talk about Tooth Decay.

It is the gradual destruction of a tooth that develops in the presence of sugars and dental plaque. The bacteria in plaque break down the sugars and other carbohydrates that we eat, and produce acids. These acids dissolve the enamel and dentine that make up the tooth structure, and create a hole or a cavity in the tooth. Once a hole has developed in the tooth surface you will need to have the decay removed from the tooth and a filling placed to seal the surface and build up the shape of the tooth again.



The best way to prevent tooth decay is to remove all bacterial plaque from all the surfaces of all your teeth, everyday. From a perfectly clean tooth surface it only takes a few seconds before the first bacteria stick to the tooth surface and begin to grow into a complex bacterial community known as Plaque. It is this film of bacteria we want to remove when we clean out teeth and gums. Careful tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste and the use of dental floss or interdental brushes to clean between the teeth can achieve this.


It is also important not to eat sugary foods and drinks throughout the day because the more often you feed the bacteria, the more acid is produced thus increasing the frequency of the decay process. Some drinks are even acidic enough to dissolve the enamel and dentine, and should therefore be avoided.

Foods that can promote the flow of saliva are good as the saliva in your mouth can counteract acid attacks on teeth by neutralising the acids produced by bacteria and sugars.  In addition, the saliva can help clear food and debris away from the mouth by flushing action. Saliva also helps ‘heal’ the tooth surface after acid attacks. Chewing gums can be helpful to stimulate the flow of saliva, but it is important to use ‘sugar-free’ chewing gums.


Always remember, prevention is always better than cure.

Dr Tan Swee Ling

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