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Tooth decay

Tooth decay, also called dental caries or dental decay, starts as minor damage to the surface of teeth, but often worsens to the stage of becoming holes in the teeth. Everyone’s mouth contains plaque (which contains bacteria) but when plaque is exposed to sugars in food and drink, the bacteria produces acids. These acids damage teeth by dissolving the tooth surface, which leads to tooth decay.
Tooth decay can be prevented by good oral care and nutrition. Food and drink containing sugar should be kept to a minimum and is best given at meal times. For example, one can of fizzy juice is equivalent to seven teaspoons of sugar and a whole chocolate bar is equivalent to 6-7 teaspoons of sugar. Too many sugary drinks and sweets cause tooth decay. See the NHS Health Scotland publication First Teeth, Healthy Teeth for detailed information on decay and preventative measures.