Tooth decay (otherwise known as a cavity or caries) occurs when the acid in the plaque has leeched enough calcium out of the enamel to cause a physical hole (ergo the name "cavity"). Having larger cavities present means the acid has reached the inner layers of the tooth. Cavities can develop on any surface of any tooth. Orthodontic patients with cavities most often see them after the braces come off, in areas around where the brackets were located and along the gumline.
If left untreated, cavities will grow over time. They are much easier and less expensive to treat when they are small. A decaying tooth may not hurt, so you may have a cavity and not realize it. The general dentist checks for tooth decay at your regular check-ups and will periodically use x-rays to check for decay between teeth. He or she treats tooth decay by cleaning out the cavity and placing a restoration (filling) in the tooth.
By following the strategies we provide for cleaning, you can prevent tooth decay.