Tooth Decay (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
The pain may become worse when you:
Severe tooth decay may cause a pus-filled sac (abscess) to form in the bone at the base of a tooth. Symptoms of abscess include:
For more information, see the topic Abscessed Tooth.
Tooth decay usually happens slowly over a period of months or years.
Decay begins when bacteria in your mouth increase during the first 20 to 30 minutes after you eat. The bacteria make acids, which eat away at the hard mineral layers of the tooth. A hole (cavity) forms when the acids cause more damage than the tooth can repair.
Types of cavities (dental caries) are:
Untreated tooth decay causes more severe problems and can lead to gum disease. For more information, see the topic Gum Disease.
Your saliva helps prevent tooth decay. It reduces acid damage to a tooth by washing away sticky, sugary foods that feed bacteria. The minerals in saliva also can help repair the tooth.
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