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Modules

Module 2: Dental Caries Process

2.5 Caries Balance

It is important to remember that dental caries is a dynamic process. There is a constant struggle between acids that act to demineralize tooth structure and saliva and fluoride exposure that act to remineralize tooth structure. If the contributing factors (e.g., limited fluoride exposure, poor oral hygiene, poor eating and feeding habits), outweigh the protective factors, caries will progress. Conversely, if protective factors outweigh contributing factors, the caries process can arrest or even reverse. The goal is to keep the contributing and protective factors balanced, or, ideally, for protective factors to outweigh contributing factors in the dental caries equation. (See figure 7.)

Figure 7: Caries Balance

Figure 7: Caries Balance 

Adapted, with permission, from Featherstone JBD. 2000. The science and practice of caries prevention. Journal of the American Dental Association 131(7):887-899.