Dental Caries: An Updated Medical Model
Dental caries is a transmissible complex biofilm disease of the teeth marked by prolonged periods of low pH in the mouth which results in net mineral loss. Historically the disease model for dental caries consisted of the primary pathogens Mutans streptococci and Lactobacillus, while treatment for the disease was based on a surgical model of restoring the damage to the teeth. Recently there has been a movement in the dental profession toward a risk assessment based medical model (CAMBRA – caries management by risk assessment) to diagnose and treat dental caries. Unfortunately moving from a surgical model to a medical model has proven confusing and complicated for dental practitioners. However, dental caries risk is usually related to just a few common risk factors, and being able to recognize these typical patterns of the disease makes this transition more efficient. Of interest to the medical profession, in addition to causing damage to the teeth, multiple oral bacteria have recently been implicated in other systemic diseases.
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