Dental decay is a disease that damages tooth structures, resulting in what is commonly called tooth decay or cavities, which are holes in the tooth structure.

Did you know that sugar isn’t the only cause of cavities? Actually, any carbohydrate can cause tooth decay to begin. How? When the food adheres to the areas between and around your teeth and when you don’t clean your teeth enough a sticky substance known as “plaque” forms on your teeth. This plaque is full of bacteria that can eat away at the hard enamel (the outer part) of your teeth. When the enamel is weakened, it puts the  layer of the tooth (dentin) at risk of developing a cavity in your tooth.

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. Aside from being painful, it can also cause an infection (an Abscess), at that time Root Canal Therapy or Extraction may be required.

moderate sized decay

Moderate sized decay

deep cavity most probably needing a root canal

Deep cavity, most probably needing a root canal treatment


The decay is removed, cleansed with a disinfectant and a filling is placed. The tooth is then restored with:

  • a composite (tooth colored) filling
  • amalgam (silver) filling
  • a gold filling

If most of the tooth structure is destroyed, then an inlay or an onlay might be needed. For this procedure, the decay is removed and the tooth is prepared and smoothed. An impression is taken and sent to the lab so the anatomy can be created. The materials used are:

  • Porcelain
  • Composite
  • Gold

An important reason to see a dentist every six months is to find cavities when they are small.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And for dental health, that means regular check-ups and thorough home care:

  • Brushing
  • Flossing
  • Mouthwash
  • Proper diet
  • Drinking enough water