MANFRED KAGE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MANFRED KAGE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Tooth decay. Coloured scanning electron micrograph of decaying molar teeth. The enamel (top layer, white/blue) has broken down and decay has spread to the layer of dentine below (brown). Tooth decay is caused by the effect on the teeth of plaque - a sticky deposit of food particles, saliva and bacteria. The bacteria in plaque ferment sugars from the remains of food and produce acid as a by-product. The acid slowly dissolves the mineralised layers of enamel and dentine that protect the tooth, eventually penetrating to the living tissue in the core, which causes severe pain. Magnification: x46 at 5x7cm size.
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