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Tooth decay. Clinical view of the teeth of a patient with dental caries (tooth decay). Cavities (brown areas) are seen at the base of several teeth. Dental caries is the decay and crumbling of the teeth. It is caused by the bacteria in plaque, a substance which covers the surface of unclean teeth. The bacteria break down sugar in the mouth, producing an acid which progressively destroys the teeth. A retractor (not seen) is being used to keep the lips away from the teeth.
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