The concept is as follows: when you eat something sweet, bacteria (streptococcus) begin to ferment these sugars, break them up, transforming them into simple acids. The pH of the mouth lowers and the acid demineralizes the teeth. Demineralization means that that the enamel (on the surface of the teeth) loses most of its calcium. Its crystal grid begins to soften and becomes susceptible to bacteria, which eventually enters it.
“The tooth is composed of multiple parts – on the surface is enamel, then the dentin, the center of the tooth is composed of a pulp cavity, where we can find nerves and blood vessels. The enamel is the hardest tissue and is therefore the most difficult for acids to penetrate. After penetration, the acids can enter the dentin at a much faster level. This is why it is important to take X-ray images of teeth on which one can see the interdental areas where most of the tooth decay takes place,” says CMC’s stomatologist MDDr. Zdeněk William Pelc. When dentin areas are affected, drilling is necessary at all times. When the decay (dental caries, cavity) is on the surface only and the X-ray image demonstrates that only demineralization of the enamel occurred, the dentist does not need to drill. Surface tooth decay can remineralize itself and stop short of affecting further areas of the tooth. A patient with small tooth decay however has to help in ensuring excellent dental hygiene at all times – for example with the help of the Elmex gelée toothpaste. The healing agent in the toothpaste is amine fluoride, but ten times stronger than in normal toothpastes. This is why it cannot be sold over the counter, but requires a medical prescription.
As part of the usual checkup, an X-ray image should be taken ensuring that any emerging tooth decay is caught early enough. “A dentist, who does not do X-rays, is not doing his/her preventive checks correctly,” adds MDDr. Zdeněk William Pelc.