[kair-eez, -ee-eez]
or tooth decay

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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Caries is a progressive destruction of any kind of bone structure, including the skull, ribs and other bones, or the teeth. Caries can be caused by osteomyelitis, which is a bacterial disease. A disease which involves caries is mastoiditis, an inflammation of the mastoid process, in which the bone gets eroded.


Dental caries is one of many types of caries. Dental caries affects different parts of the teeth: enamel, dentin or cementum; in the crown or the root of the tooth. Nearly all cases contain bacteria such as streptococcus mutans and lactobacillus which produces lactic acid as the products responsible for the caries.

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