n Journal of Minimum Intervention in Dentistry - Minimal intervention (MI) in dentistry : caries - the disease




It is now clear that surface cavitation of either enamel or dentine is the result of an imbalance in the demineralisation/remineralisation cycle that is constantly occurring on the tooth surface. The entire exposed tooth surface is covered with a layer of biofilm, which develops from the saliva, and acts as a filter as well as a protective coating. It supports the bacterial plaque within which carbohydrates in food and drink are broken down into acid and the pH level within the biofilm can be lowered to the extent that calcium and phosphate ions can be removed from the enamel or dentine. The majority of these ions is retained within the biofilm and can return in to the tooth surface as chemical activity reduces and the saliva neutralizes the pH. This chemical activity can be regarded as a continuum constantly fluctuating as a result of changes in the oral pH. However, there are a number of factors that can destabilize the situation and lead to an excess of demineralisation, with escape of some ions, and thus overall loss of mineral ions and ultimately surface cavitation.


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