Dental caries is also know as tooth decay is a sugar dependant disease. Bacteria that are found in dental plaque produce an acid when metabolising dietary carbohydrates. The acid then causes enamel demineralisation (the loss of calcium and phosphate ions). This process is reversed when the pH rises again. Caries is a dynamic process where if destruction predominates, loss of the mineral component will occur, leading to cavitation of the tooth surface.
Methods for treating dental caries depends on the extent of the tooth surface cavitation. If the cavity is only in the outerlayer of the tooth (enamel) your dentist may suggest they will monitor the cavity and advise improved oral care and dental products to try remineralise the damaged area. A deeper cavity which has progressed into the next layer (dentine) will require a composite filling or amalgam filling. Your dentist will numb your tooth, and use a dental drill to clean out the damaged tooth structure. A filling will then be placed to replicate a virgin tooth.