Tooth decay is the most prevalent chronic disease in both children and adults. It begins when acids produced by bacteria break down the outer surface of a tooth. Frequent snacking or drinking sugary beverages like soda and juice can increase the production of these acids.
Teeth are comprised of three layers. The enamel is the hard-outer layer. The middle layer is somewhat softer and is called dentin. The inner layer is the dental pulp, which contains blood vessels and nerves.
Tooth decay starts with demineralization or white spots on the enamel. These can be reversed with treatments like fluoride therapy. However, once the decay penetrates deeper into the tooth (dentin), it can’t be reversed and must be treated differently.
If tooth decay is severe, it can reach the inner layer of the tooth (dental pulp) and cause the nerve to become infected.