Caries — Ancient Plague of Humankind

  • Peter Caselitz


Humans are all too often haunted by their decayed teeth. Caries is not the largest plague of humankind, but certainly a daily nuisance. The aim of this chapter is to review the current theories of etiology, methods of scientific analysis, and particularly the evolution of caries in a historical dimension. Caries, or caries dentium, is the common name for tooth decay. It is a local disease characterized by an irreversible and progressive destruction of the hard dental tissue. Caries starts at the enamel surface of the tooth or — in case of recessed gingiva — at exposed parts of the neck. It works its way progessively through the dentine into the pulp cavity. The crown can be totally destroyed and other periodontal difficulties such as abscess may follow (for pulpoalveolar and periodontal diseases see Strohm and Alt, this volume). Finally — in more favourable cases — the affected tooth will fall out and the alveolus will be closed naturally. Alternatively, inflammation will spread into the surrounding bone or — specifically in the case of the upper teeth — the maxillary sinus will suppurate, leading to further, sometimes even deadly complications (for periapical diseases see Alt et al., this volume).


Dental Caries Streptococcus Mutans Carious Lesion Anterior Tooth Permanent Dentition 
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© Springer-Verlag/Wien 1998

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  • Peter Caselitz

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