Frequently Asked Questions



Dental caries also known as tooth decay is the destruction of the hard structure of the tooth by bacteria and its by-products. Our mouths have thousands of naturally occuring bacteria. These bacteria will not normally cause us any harm. However in the presence of fermentable carbohydrates such as glucose, sucrose and fructose, this bacteria will break down these sugars .  One of the by-products of this break down is lactic acid. The lactic acid erodes the tooth causing cavities of ‘holes’ in our teeth. With continued destruction, these cavities enlarge and progressively cause sensitivity, pain and sever infection in our mouth.



Tooth decay is the destruction of the hard structure of the teeth. Four things need to be present for tooth decay to occur: a tooth, fermentable sugar, bacteria that breaks down the sugar, and finally time to allow for this break down to take place.  Ways to protect ourselves from tooth decay would thus be targeted at this four areas.

Fermentable Sugars

Reducing the intake of sugar will greatly reduce the risk of tooth decay. A diet low on cakes, choclates and sweets does not necessary mean its low on sugars. Most refined foods like bread, pastries, sodas and juices are high in sugar. In addition, some of these foods are low in fibre and will easily stick onto the tooth surfaces. Unlike other sugars, refined sugars are quickly broken down in the mouth and thus their potential to cause cavities is higher.


Time is required for the break down of the sugar to lactic acid by the bacteria. The longer the sugar stays in our mouths and in contact with our teeth, the higher the levels of cavity-forming lactic acid is produced. Regular brushing of our teeth (at least twice a day), ensures that bacteria have contact with the sugars for only limited periods. Saliva helps to rinse out the sugar and lactic acid from our mouths. Chewing sugar free gum increases saliva flow and helps in the rinsing away of the harmful substrate. At night, the flow of saliva is greatly reduced. This means that at these times, our teeth’s self-cleansing mechanism is hampered. It is imperative you brush your teeth before going to bed.



  • Using floride containing toothpaste helps strengthen our teeth. Floride from the saliva is incorporated into the tooth structure making the tooth surface stronger and more resistant to decay.
  • Crooked teeth create area where food particles can ‘hide’. This areas are hard to reach when brushing resulting in tooth decay. Whenever possible, its best to get crooked teeth straightened.
  • Small cavities result in food impacting in them. This food is hard to clean and will lead to increased decay and a larger cavity. Neighbouring teeth in close proximity of this cavities will in time develop cavities themselves.



Most of the bacteria in our mouth is naturally occuring and in normal situations will not cause us any harm. In fact, a reduction of some of these bacteria will result in an upsurge of disease causing micro-organisms for example fungi. To prevent tooth decay, we aim to ensure that these naturally occuring bacteria do not multiply to harmful levels. Starve them by reducing the sugar that they rely on for food. Also, brush regularly each day, and see your dentist every six months for professional cleaning.