JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Dental drilling. Child having a tooth drilled by a dentist to treat tooth decay. The dentist is holding a drill (at left) and the handle of a mirror (at centre right). Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in the mouth. The bacteria feed on sugars from food, producing acids which corrode the teeth. This corrosion causes cavities (caries) which may allow the bacteria to invade the living centre (pulp) of the tooth and cause infection. Caries may be treated by drilling out corroded areas and replacing them with amalgam or cement. Tooth decay can be reduced by regular cleaning or by avoiding high-sugar foods. It is also prevented by the presence of fluoride.
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