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It is a irreversible microbial disease of calcified tissue of the teeth characterised by demineralisation of inorganic portion and destruction of organic substance

which leads to cavitation. Its a complex and dynamic process where a multitude of factors influence and initiate the progress of disease.

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Its a major health problem and problem affecting mankind because its manifestation persists through out the life despite treatment. It affects both genders,all races,all socioeconomic strate and all ages. Caries free individual- people who dont develop caries.

Dental caries may be considered as a disease of MODERN CIVILISATION. Prehistoric man rarely suffered from caries Teeth are relatively imperishable in dry burial site for many years. ANTHROPOLOGICAL STUDIES by WON LENHOSSEK revealed that dolicocephalic skull of man from preneolithic period (12000AD)- no dental caries. But BRACHYCEPHALIC of neolithic period (12000-3000bc)caroius teeth Carious lesion found at or just below contact areas and increase in frequency of caries at CEJ was noted.

By about 17th century there was a significant increase in total caries incidence and small increase in the carious lesion involving the interproximal contact area of tooth. Today,dental caries is UNIVERSAL DISEASE. MELLANBY-in 1934 revived on the literature of dental caries,in existing primitive race and noted that incidence was invariably less than that in modern man. Isolated population tht have not acquired habits of modern industrialised man,retained relative freedom from dental caries.

Living in north west territories consumed native food-low incidence of carious lesion(like canada,greenland etc) Price reported Alaskan eskimos exhibit 0.1%of carious incidence,but eskimos living in area with access to processed food showed incidence of 13%.

Change in diet from essentially primitive to one characteristic of highly industrialised society,indicates that modern civilisation has increased incidence of DENTAL CARIES.

Different parts of the world have different rates of incidence of dental caries,eg:decayed tooth persons at all ages upto 39 yrs-in Ethiopia it is less than 1 decayed,its 60 times greater in Alaska-Aleuts. Figure shows least affected areas.

Caries prevalence is lowest (0.5-1.7)DMF in Asia and Africa. Highest in America(12-18). Generally highest carious indices with decay,missing and fillied teeth approx is 4.5. Highest DMF-5.6 in Newzealand,Brazil,Austalia.

Dental caries has its origin rooted deep in history even as early as 460-377BC. Theories: Worm theory Humors theory. Vital theory. Chemical theory. Septic theory. Acidogenic theory. Proteolysis theory. Autoimmune theory.

According to Assyrians legend,tooth ache was caused by worm infection.

drank blood of teeth and fed on the roots.

as a punshment for offence commited against God.

The ancient Greek considered that a persons physical and mental constitution was determined by four elements blood phlegm black bile yellow bile All diseases including caries was explained by an imbalance of their humors.

This theory regarded dental caries originated within the tooth itself,analogous to bone gangrene

Parmly proposed that an unidentified chemical agent caused caries. He stated that caries begins on the enamel surface in location where food putrified and acquired sufficient desolving power.

Erdl proposed this theory. He describes filamentous parasites in the surface membrane of the tooth or plaque responsible for tooth decay.

In 1890 WD Miller put forth the acidogenic theory or chemico parasitic theory,to explain the occurrence or tooth decay. According to this theory,dental caries cause decalcification of tooth due to acid produced by parasite or micro organism.

In 1944 GOTTLIEB proposed the proteolysis theory. According to this theory the protein component of the tooth structure is destroyed first prior to loss of tooth mineral.

It was SCHATZ and MARTIN in 1955 who put forth proteolysis chelation theory,which is extension of proteolysis theory. The product of proteolysis of tooth substance acquired pellicle and food by bacterial enzyme act as a chelating agent,which removes calcium ions from tooth.

JACKSON and BURCH postulated the autoimmune theory of caries development. According to them genetic structure of person was responsible for caries succeptibility or caries immunity.

By, SANKEERTHY