Tooth decay is a disease that causes the destruction of enamel, which is the hard outer surface of a tooth. As tooth decay progresses, it can attack deeper layers of a tooth, leading to cavities.

If a person does not receive treatment for tooth decay, it can lead to more issues with the teeth and mouth. However, some treatments can help prevent or stop the spread of tooth decay.

This article will cover the causes, symptoms, and treatments for a person with tooth decay.

Tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities, is a disease that causes the breakdown of tooth enamel.

Once tooth decay has eroded the enamel, cavities can start to form.

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According to the American Dental Association (ADA), a tooth consists of three layers:


Enamel is the hard outer layer that protects the inner layers of a tooth. Tooth enamel contains no living cells and is the hardest structure in the human body.


Dentin is the second layer of a tooth. When the enamel is damaged, it may expose the dentin. Small tubes within the dentin allow hot and cold food to stimulate the nerves of the tooth. The stimulation of these nerves can cause pain and sensitivity in the tooth.


The pulp is the center of the tooth. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.
Tooth decay can occur in varying degrees of severity. Damage from tooth decay can range from causing wear to the enamel to painful abscesses within the pulp of the tooth.

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