Tooth decay is caused by bacteria Bacteria that eat sugars and produce acid cause tooth decay. The acid these bacteria produce slowly dissolves the hard outer surface of the tooth, the enamel. The softer, inner layer of the tooth is called dentin. When bacteria reach the dentin, tooth decay progresses more rapidly.
How does decay lead to toothache? The infection can extend all the way to the blood and nerve supply of the tooth, the pulp. When the infection reaches the pulp, the tooth becomes painful and can hurt even without eating or drinking.
What can I do? In early stages of decay, most teeth can be repaired by removing the infected and destroyed unsound tooth structure that is filled with bacteria and replacing that portion of missing structure with a filling. Preventing tooth decay with good oral hygiene and diet is best.
Your teeth are covered with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. When you eat and drink, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that can cause the enamel or root surface to break down. Plaque collects around the gumline and on the chewing surfaces of your molars in the back of your mouth, putting these areas at higher risk of developing decay. Removing plaque through brushing and flossing every day is key to preventing tooth decay.