Localized disease that causes decay and cavities in teeth. It begins at the tooth's surface and may penetrate the dentin and the pulp cavity. Microorganisms in the mouth are believed to consume sugars and produce acids that eat away at tooth enamel. The dentin's protein structure is then destroyed by enzymes. Diet, general health, structural tooth defects, and heredity affect the risk of having caries. Prevention involves avoiding excessive sweets, brushing and flossing the teeth, and having regular dental care. Treatment includes restoration of teeth with cavities. Fluoridation of water can reduce the occurrence of caries by as much as 65percnt.
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