Joby Peter1, S. Rupesh2, S. Thayumanavan3, G. Mohan4, D. K. Sugumaran5, N. Venugopal Reddy6, Arun Prassad Rao7, R. Krishnna Kumar8

INTRODUCTION: Dental caries is essentially a progressive loss by acid dissolution of the apatite (mineral) components of the enamel, then the dental or of the cementum then dentin. Dental caries is a multifactorial disease, which is the result of interaction between the tooth (host) and the environment around it including the bacteria, saliva and diet of an individual. Interaction between three factors namely host, microflora and substrate was introduced by Keyes1 (1960) – called „Keyes cycle???. A fourth factor – time – was included by Newbrun2 (1982).
The late 21st century has seen remarkable developments in understanding the caries process. Dental caries is now considered as an infectious communicable disease resulting in destruction of tooth structure by acid-forming bacteria in dental plaque (an intraoral biofilm), in the presence of sugar. This infection results in loss of tooth minerals that begins on the outer surface of the tooth and can progress through the dentin to the pulp; ultimately compromising the vitality of the tooth.
Caries is the most prevalent disease with a multifactorial etiology affecting the human race. Although the prevalence of dental caries in different communities around the world is decreasing, it is not yet extinct (Bowen et al 1991)3; and it has been found to be higher in certain high-risk groups (Winter 1998).