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Dental decay (caries) is caused by bacteria that live in plaque on the teeth. A tooth is essentially a hollow piece of bone with an enamel cap. Enamel is just like glass, so when acid meets glass, the glass is etched. The same process occurs in the mouth. Bacteria eats sugar that pass through the mouth and makes acid. Acid then etches the tooth surface a little at a time until the enamel is penetrated. Thus, a cavity is formed.