Periapical (root-tip) Abscess
Tooth 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 first X-ray.
Months later, 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).