Plaque is a film of bacteria that adheres to the surface of a tooth. These bacteria are capable of converting the sugar contained in foods and beverages into acid, which in turn dematerializes and destroys the tooth. This process leads to tooth decay or cavities. A diet rich in sugary and acidic food and beverages as well as insufficient oral hygiene render a tooth susceptible to decay.

In order to evaluate the presence of cavities, your dentist will need to perform an intra-oral examination and take x-rays. Once a cavity is found, your dentist will remove the decayed portion and put a filling, which consists of either amalgam (grey) or composite (white or tooth-colored). When left uncontrolled, tooth decay progresses deeper through the different layers of the tooth. It can eventually cause pain or even an infection. Once decay reaches the pulp, a root canal treatment is needed.