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).