spinal caries

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(kar'ez, ker') [L. caries, rottenness]
Gradual decay and disintegration of soft or bony tissue or of a tooth. If the decay progresses, the surrounding tissue becomes inflamed and an abscess forms, e.g., chronic abscess, tuberculosis, and bacterial invasion of teeth. In caries, the bone disintegrates by pieces, whereas in necrosis, large masses of bone are involved. Synonym: dental cavitycarious (-re-us), adjective

arrested caries

Apparent lack of progress in a carious lesion as a result of remineralization.

bottle mouth caries

Baby bottle syndrome.

cervical caries

Caries involving the neck of the tooth, slightly above or below the junction between the root cementum and the enamel crown.

dental caries

Progressive decalcification of the enamel and dentin of a tooth; tooth decay. The condition is caused by dental infection, and the erosion of teeth by the acid by-products of bacterial metabolism on their surfaces.


Minimizing the dietary intake of refined sugars and careful toothbrushing twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste reduces the incidence of dental caries. Use of dental floss or tape removes plaque from between adjacent tooth surfaces; deep pits and fissures may be sealed by the application of resins. The sealant may need to be replaced periodically. Early detection and dental restorations offer the best form of control once caries has formed. Topical application of fluoride promotes resistance to dental caries. Dental caries is less likely to develop if appropriate amounts of fluoride are ingested while the teeth are developing. It is important that excess fluoride not be ingested because greater amounts than required (about 1 mg/day) cause mottling of the teeth. Fluoride in the diet does not obviate the need for topical application of fluoride to the teeth.

Synonym: dental cavity See: dental plaqueillustration

incipient caries

One of the two distinct stages in the development of a carious dental lesion. The first stage is the incipient lesion, marked by the appearance of a white spot. Microscopic pores course through the enamel to the subsurface demineralization, where the main body of the lesion is located.

pit and fissure caries

Caries in the pits and fissures of tooth enamel.

radiation caries

Dental caries that develops as a side effect of treatment of malignancies of the oral cavity with ionizing radiation. The etiology is, in part, due to the dysfunction of the salivary glands.

rampant caries

A sudden onset of widespread caries that affects most of the teeth and penetrates quickly to the dental pulp.

recurrent caries

Dental caries that develops at the small imperfections between the tooth surface and a restoration, caused by plaque at the imperfections. Synonym: secondary caries

root caries

Caries on the root of a tooth. The root is more susceptible to decay than the rest of the tooth due to the lack of an enamel covering, difficulty in maintaining a clean root surface, and the lack of effective preventive therapies.

secondary caries

Recurrent caries.

caries sicca

Bony destruction such as that caused by infection with syphilis.

spinal caries

Pott's disease. See: Pott, John Percivall
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