Dental Caries (Dental Cavities, Tooth Decay)
Dental caries (dental cavities, tooth decay) is the most prevalent oral disease. Bacteria in your mouth form a sticky film on your teeth called plaque. The bacteria digest food, particularly sugars, and release acid. Over time the acid dissolves the enamel and dentine on the outer layers of your tooth to create a hole or a cavity.
It is important to visit your dentist regularly so cavities are detected early. In their early stages cavities are usually painless and easy to repair. Pain is not felt until they are large and are affecting nerves, or damage the structure of your tooth so badly a tooth fracture occurs. Left untreated tooth decay will destroy the pulp within your tooth and eventually the tooth will fall out. Untreated tooth decay can also result in the development of an abscess and serious illness.
Once a dental caries has developed your dentist will need to remove the decay from the tooth and place a filling. More severe decay may require a crown or inlays or onlays to repair the structure of the tooth. If the nerve in the tooth has died a root canal treatment is usually recommended.
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This page was last updated at 9:33AM on April 17, 2019.