Dental decay is a disease that can damage your tooth's structure. Decay starts by damaging your tooth's protective coating, also known as enamel, causing a hole (cavity) to develop in your tooth. If the cavity is left untreated, it can get bigger and, besides causing pain, this could lead to the loss of a tooth.
Everyday you have a thin sticky substance forming on your teeth and gums called plaque. A cavity is caused when the bacteria living in the plaque react with sugars from the food or drink that you eat, resulting in an acid. This acid then attacks the surface of your tooth. It can be painful if the cavity is not stopped and it progresses inside the tooth structure.
It is important to remember that whatever your age and however many teeth you have - even if you only have a single tooth, you can still develop a cavity.
Young children can develop Early Childhood Tooth Decay or ECC, also known as Early Childhood Caries or Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. This type of tooth decay generally affects the four front teeth. It can cause pain, speech problems, and spacing between teeth (or orthodontic) problems later in the child's life. Tooth decay in early childhood can also cause other health risks later in life. For example, children may need a general anesthetic for an operation to treat the tooth decay. The good news is that Early Childhood Tooth Decay (or ECC) is preventable.
As you get older, you are more likely to develop cavities around the roots of your teeth, also called root caries or around the edges of your fillings. Older adults should continue to brush and floss to prevent developing cavities.
If you experience any pain in your teeth or your mouth, visit a dental professional immediately. A dental professional can help prevent a cavity from developing.
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