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
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).