Almost everyone has one or two cavities in their lifetime, even with good dental hygiene. The average American adult has three fillings. But if you tend to have a lot of cavities, you might wonder why. Tooth decay is the most prevalent infectious disease in humans and affects 97 percent of the population throughout their lives.
As a result of the pathological process known as dental caries, the occurrence of tooth decay is a complex and multifactorial scenario. Caries is an acid demineralization of the teeth induced by a biofilm and requires the right combination of conditions to progress. When tooth enamel is subjected to a pH lower than 5.5, it begins to demineralize. Above this so-called critical pH, an attenuating repair process can occur: remineralization.
Remineralization, in turn, is influenced by the presence of salivary minerals, the available fluoride ion and the salivary flow. When the tug-of-war balance is tilted to the side of demineralization for a period of time without proportional and compensatory remineralization, the decay process can progress to the point of cavitation and create a visible cavity. This cavity must then be restored through surgical dentistry procedures, better known as fillings. Studies show that more than 90% of Americans have some level of tooth decay, while 25% have one or more cavities that haven't yet been filled.