ECC Etiology: Triad

What Causes Dental Caries?

  • Caries is a multi-step process┬áresulting in destruction of the tooth structure
  • Oral bacteria (including mutans streptococci and lactobacilli) metabolize the sugars from dietary carbohydrates into acid
  • Acids demineralize the tooth enamel
  • If the cycle of acid production and demineralization continues, the enamel will become weakened and break down into a cavity

This process is reviewed in greater depth in the Smiles for Life "Child Oral Health" Course.


Fisher-Owens SA, Gansky SA , Platt LJ et al. Influences on Children's Oral Health: A Conceptual Model. Pediatrics. 2007. Vol. 120(3): pp. e510 -e520.

Colak H, D├╝lgergil CT, Dalli M, Hamidi MM. Early childhood caries update: A review of causes, diagnoses, and treatments. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2013; 4(1):29-38.