Tooth decay (dental caries) is a chronic disease that can result in the localised and progressive demineralisation (loss of mineral content) of the hard surfaces of the tooth. It is a multistage process initiated by the local accumulation of cariogenic bacteria on the hard surfaces of the tooth. Cariogenic bacteria metabolise dietary carbohydrates to produce plaque acids, which cause demineralisation of the tooth enamel (non-cavitated dental caries). Without successful treatment, the demineralisation can extend into the dentine and eventually into the pulp (cavitated dental caries). Common symptoms of untreated cavitated dental caries are significant pain and discomfort, which can lead to disturbances in eating and loss of sleep.