What is dental decay?
The term dental decay is synonymous with the terms dental caries and tooth rot.
Decay means that the tooth has become broken down and infected with bacteria. These bacteria eat leftover food and refined sugar on our teeth and they process these into acid. This acid then melts away the tooth structure leaving a hole or cavity. More bacteria invade this hole and feed off of food debris and refined sugars, producing more acid and the hole or cavity expands.
The worst culprits are refined sugars like lollies, chocolate, and acidic foods such as sports drinks, lemons, or limes. Excessive intake of any of these can lead to the destruction of tooth structure.
Cavities start out as small/pinpoint holes in the outer enamel of the tooth. Enamel is very hard and difficult to damage. However, once the bacteria eat through the enamel they can much more easily destroy the softer underlying dentin. That is why as soon as you notice a hole in your tooth you must see a dentist immediately as the damage will be more extensive than it looks.