Dental caries, also known as tooth decay or a cavity, is an infection, bacterial in origin, that causes demineralization and destruction of the hard tissues, usually by production of acid by bacterial fermentation of the food debris accumulated on the tooth surface. If demineralization exceeds saliva and other remineralization factors such as from calcium and fluoridated toothpastes, these hard tissues progressively break down, producing dental caries (cavities, holes in the teeth).
The cavities may be a number of different colors from yellow to black. Symptoms may include pain and difficulty with eating. Complications may include inflammation of the tissue around the tooth, tooth loss, and infection or abscess formation