Decay begins when the protein of your saliva combines
with the sugars and carbohydrates of food particles
left on and between your teeth. This combination creates
bacteria-laden plaque, from which acid is produced that
eats away at the hard enamel shell around your tooth.
Left unchecked, a hole will be created in the enamel
and a cavity will rapidly form in the softer dentin
which lies under the enamel. If the cavity is caught
in time, usually a Filling
will correct the problem. Larger cavities may require
an Inlay or Onlay,
or a Crown. However, if nothing
is done and the decay spreads, the sensitive pulp (nerve)
may become involved, often causing an Abscess,
and Root Canal Therapy or
Extraction may be required.
No cavity on
cavities that start between the teeth can't be
seen by visual examination, but they can be detected
on an X-ray.
This cavity was detected and filled before the patient
felt any discomfort, and before the nerve became infected
or the tooth became abscessed.
There is another cavity shown in the X-ray
on the right. Can you find it? It's difficult for the
untrained eye to spot. Click here to see where it is. (Hint: It's not the
left edge of the top left tooth. That's just the edge of the
frame around the X-ray).