oral care


Caries – the underestimated danger

A dark discolouration or a hole in the tooth… many people do not know the exact definition of caries. The disease and its background – and why caries is more dangerous than many people assume, especially if it is left untreated.

Who doesn’t remember the story of “Karius and Bactus” from their childhood? To this day, the story teaches children about these two bad bacteria, what it means to have a hole in your tooth and why it is so important to regularly brush your teeth. However, by the time we become adults, or much sooner, many of us will have forgotten the details of the story, Despite the doctors’ and scientists’ continual warnings that caries is the most common disease to affect the teeth and poses a serious threat to oral health. If it remains untreated, it may even have grave consequences for the whole body.

In the following, we explain why this is the case and how you can avoid caries.

What exactly is caries?

In short, caries, which actually means tooth decay, destroys the tooth’s substance (technically speaking, the tooth structure). It is a damaging process of demineralisation that affects the teeth. You can picture caries developing like this: just as rocks that are constantly surrounded by salty seawater become gradually hollowed out and thereby increasingly porous and full of holes, caries washes out the tooth’s minerals, i.e. the hard tooth substance. Initially, the tooth’s surface becomes damaged; the tooth becoming discoloured is a sign of the damage; then a hole develops. The tooth becomes painful when its soft parts, including the nerve, eventually also become affected.

Our product recommendations

LACALUT® aktiv

LACALUT® aktiv


About the product

LACALUT® aktiv Gum protection & Gentle White

LACALUT® aktiv

Gum protection & Gentle White

About the product

LACALUT® Aktiv Gum protection & Sensitivity

LACALUT® aktiv

Gum protection & Sensitivity

About the product

Sugary food and bacterial waste products are to blame

The process of the tooth substance’s destruction is triggered by acids, which are a waste product excreted by bacteria living in the mouth. These acids attack the enamel, the tooth’s hard outer layer, and destroy it.

Schmerzende Zähne

Background information:

Scientific evidence indicates that more than 700 different types of bacteria live in our mouth, and we do not even notice them. Similar to our intestinal flora, where good bacteria perform important roles, many such microorganisms also exist in our mouth. They are in fact useful and important for a healthy oral flora.

However, other bacteria live on food residues and beverages, especially the sugary residues from food. If these are not removed by regular tooth brushing, they will form deposits on the teeth’s surfaces and in the interdental spaces in particular. The food residues are metabolised by bacteria which, in doing so, release acids that are dangerous to the tooth substance, and caries results. The latter will get progressively worse if left untreated.

How we detect caries:

Caries can have a number of different external characteristics, depending on where it appears. As mentioned before, caries exists long before it can be seen as a dark hole in the tooth. Moreover, the term tooth decay is also misleading since the enamel (and the dentine below) is demineralised by acids.


In its so-called initial stages, caries is often quite inconspicuous, appearing in the form of chalky white spots found on the tooth that are lighter in colour than the rest of the tooth. In the early stages of the process, the dental surface is generally still intact. However, in these areas, the enamel’s demineralisation has already begun, which then makes them porous. Dark spots also appear – another sign of caries. While older children, adolescents and adults usually struggle with their chewing surfaces and the interdental spaces, older people (60+ years of age) tend to have more problems with caries affecting the tooth necks because as we get older the tooth necks often become exposed as our gums recede.

This type of caries which affects the sensitive tooth necks, where the natural protective layer is significantly thinner, is also called root caries.

Visit at the dentist: diagnosis and treatment

Unfortunately, after an initially successful treatment, so-called secondary caries can occur, namely if bacteria colonise the gaps between the filling and tooth. Since caries can often only be detected by X-ray, regular check-ups at the dentist are important. By using a probe, the dentist can determine the depth of the caries. X-rays are particularly good at revealing carious defects, which is why they are often used for this purpose. In advanced cases, the decayed areas may have to be drilled and filled.

In the early stages, it is still possible to counteract the tooth enamel’s demineralisation

Röntgenbild Mundraum

How to prevent caries with proper nutrition and care?

The good news: at an early stage, caries can still be stopped without having to drill and fill the cavities, namely with the active agent fluoride. Fluoride toothpastes, e.g. LACALUT, ensure that the minerals contained in our saliva can counteract the tooth enamel’s destruction. Fluoride toothpastes strengthen and thereby stabilise the enamel. Strong tooth enamel is less susceptible to bacteria. If you are on the move and cannot brush your teeth after a meal, xylitol-containing chewing gum can be helpful. It will stimulate saliva production and help to neutralise the acids in the mouth. In general, having plenty to drink and a good saliva flow are important ways to prevent caries since several of the components found in saliva have antibacterial properties. The minerals contained in the saliva can counteract the loss of hard tooth substance.

Something that is often underestimated: untreated caries is extremely dangerous since the inflammation may spread to the jawbone. Moreover, the bacteria can also enter our organism via the bloodstream and then cause inflammation of the organs.

How to prevent caries with proper nutrition and care?

Caries bacteria love sugars like those found in foods and drinks; refined sugars as well as glucose and fructose are ideal food for microorganisms. That is why you should avoid sugary foods and drinks or consume them only in moderation and brush your teeth immediately after consuming them.


Cleaning your teeth

It is the only way to reduce harmful bacteria. The aim is to prevent the constantly forming film made up of saliva and bacteria, which is also called plaque or biofilm, from becoming thicker and thicker, as it is a particularly good place for caries provoking bacteria to multiply. Long-chain sugar compounds, e.g. carbohydrates found in wholegrain products, do not cause caries. Nevertheless, food residues should always be removed thoroughly – for long-lasting healthy teeth.


Bleeding gums – Warning signs & remedies

Bleeding gums are a serious warning sign from our body. They are an indication of inflammation throughout the whole periodontium. Experts call this periodontitis.

Find out more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *