Cavities (Tooth Decay)

Cavities or tooth decay happen in the teeth due to acids produced by bacteria which arise due to improper dental hygiene. Cavities are holes in teeth that happens to almost 80 percent of all people till they reach their 30s.

Cavities form when acid produced by bacteria wears down a tooth’s outer enamel and further forms holes in it. The acid is produced by bacteria by breaking the sugar present in the food. Tooth decay can happen to anyone and is the most common dental problem.

The types of the dental cavity are −

  • Smooth Surface. The smooth surface cavity is a slow-growing cavity that dissolves the enamel and it happens on the smooth surface of the teeth.

  • Pit and fissure cavity. This type of tooth cavity happens on the chewing side of the teeth and it occurs due to poor dental hygiene.

  • Root Cavity. Root cavity or decay occurs on the root of the teeth. This happens mainly to old people and it is difficult to treat. Teeth removal is normally done here.

Cavities: Causes

The probable causes of Cavities may include Cavities are formed over some time due to tooth decay and it is a process of teeth deterioration from the outer cover to the roots.

  • Plague formation over the surface of the teeth is one of the most common reasons for tooth decay.

  • Poor oral hygiene is the main reason for the formation of plagues as mentioned above.

  • The structure of the teeth is also one of the reasons for cavities. While brushing most of the advantage is given to the front teeth while the molars in the back are mostly left out which plays a major role in chewing activities.

Cavities: Symptoms

Tooth decay or cavities formed in the early stage doesn’t get caught easily if you are not visiting your dentist regularly as it doesn’t generally cause pain. When the cavity reaches deeper into the Dentin and canals then they cause pain and the case is difficult to deal with. However, the following symptoms are to be looked for.

  • First and foremost, symptom is a toothache. If you feel pain in the teeth while eating or anything this may be an early sign of a cavity.

  • Bad breath coming from the mouth can be a sign of tooth decay too.

  • Bad taste in the mouth is also one of the early signs.

  • Sensitivity while eating anything cold or hot. A sudden feeling of uneasiness while having something of extreme temperature can also relate to tooth decay.

  • Spots appearing on the surface of teeth.

Cavities: Risk Factors

The major risk factors include −

  • With teeth come teeth problems and with age the problem with teeth increases.

  • Molar teeth are more at risk due to them being at corners and are not easy to clean.

  • Person who snacks a lot are also more at risk. They are not being able to gargle their mouth more frequently and the food particles are left behind.

  • Persons with bad food habits, like having more sweets in their diet, carbohydrates, sugar, chocolates, cold drink, soda, fast foods, etc that stick to teeth for a long time are also at risk.

  • Lack of dental and oral hygiene is one of the most important reasons for cavities.

  • Leaving the mouth dry for a long time can also result in tooth decay.

  • People not visiting the dentist regularly can also be at risk as cavities at an early stage is difficult to diagnose as patient never feel any pain or anything until the cavity reaches a deeper level.

  • Fluoride dental products are required to form the calcium lost in the teeth due to cavity formation and also for fighting against tooth decay.

Cavities: Diagnosis

To diagnose Cavities some of the prominent methods are −

  • Diagnosis of cavities can be done by Dentists only during their check-ups and can do that by asking a questionnaire or through their dental equipment.

  • Dentists can physically examine your teeth and touch and ask questions thereby.

  • They can ask about any pain and sensitivity issues.

  • Can use their dental equipment for examination for understanding the type of cavity i.e., smooth surface, Pit & fissure, or root canal cavity.

  • Dental X-rays are used most often.

Cavities: Treatment

After the diagnosis is carried out by the dentist he may recommend any of the treatments as per the stage of tooth decay.

  • If the cavity is found in the early stage a fluoride treatment alone can be very effective for washing out the cavity. The dentist will look into the diet program and may suggest alternatives diet to have less exposure to sugar content. Fluoride wash can be in the form of gel, varnish, etc., and it will wash any early traces of cavity formed.

  • Filings are suggested by dentists when tooth decay reaches a later stage. In this treatment first, the dentist removes the affected layer by using various tools and then fills the gaps by using a mixture of different filling materials.

  • Crowns are used when it is felt that filings are unable to replace the parts affected by the cavity. In these, the dentist removes the whole teeth by drilling so that the new crown effectively fits to the whole part. It can be made of any metal like gold, silver, high-strength porcelain, etc.

  • Root canal. When the cavity reaches the root canal this method is used. This method is used to save the teeth by treating the root and removing the pulp and medication is given to treat the infection. The infected pulp is replaced by filings.

  • Tooth Extraction. This is the last stage of the cavity where nothing can be done to remove the cavity and the teeth have been lost. Teeth are extracted by the dentist, and it is advised to bridge the gap with a dental implant.

Cavities: Prevention

Tooth decay is a normal problem that happens around everyone due to their eating habits and lack of dental hygiene.

It can be prevented; some of the methods of prevention are appended below −

  • Brush your teeth twice a day.

  • Visit your dentists regularly.

  • Change your eating habits.

  • Have fewer snacks or frequent meals.

  • Avoid sugar, carbohydrates, or fast foods.

  • Do not smoke.

  • Avoid Alcohol.

  • Daily floss to get rid of the cavity.

  • Use good fluoride-based mouthwash.

  • Visit a doctor immediately in case of any symptoms of tooth decay.

  • Teach good dental habits to kids from an early stage.

  • Rinse your mouth regularly.

  • Consider fluoride treatments.

  • Have food that is good for teeth.


Now and then it is said that take good care of your teeth and brush your teeth regularly. But still, the cavities problem is most frequent everywhere. Formation of a cavity is a process and the first stage starts from the time when someone chews food. The lack of dental hygiene can lead to a series of consequences which leads as tooth decay.

The first stage of the cavity is on the outer surface of teeth where the plaque is formed on the surface of teeth. Plague-created cavities and cavities if not checked early can lead to the removal of teeth.

Teeth not only help to chew food but also give a good look to one appearance. Toothache and sensitivity are issues that can affect one’s eating and have a serious impact on lifestyle.

Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha
Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha


Updated on: 29-Mar-2023


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