Common Symptoms Of Tooth Decay And How To Prevent It

Your teeth’s hard surface contains damaged spots called cavities. These tooth-decayed patches develop into microscopic holes or openings that may cause severe pain, infection, or even tooth loss. Cavities can be caused by a variety of factors, such as oral bacteria, frequent snacking, use of sugary beverages, and not sufficient tooth brushing.

Two of the most common dental issues that people face today are cavities and tooth decay. They’re more prevalent in older individuals, teens, and youngsters. But cavities may affect anybody with teeth, including infants.

If cavities are left untreated, they enlarge and damage your teeth’s deeper layers. The best defense against cavities in your teeth is routine dental checkups, the right brushing technique, and flossing practices. 

Tooth cavity from improper oral hygiene

What Is A Cavity?

A cavity is a hole caused by dental decay in a tooth. Cavities arise due to the erosion of the tooth’s enamel, which is the hard outer covering, by acids found in the mouth. Cavities may affect everyone that has developed teeth. In order to avoid them you should take good care of your teeth and yearly dental cleanings. Dental caries is another term for cavities in teeth.

Types Of Cavities

You should know that cavities can be present on any tooth surface and some of the most common are: 

  • On the smooth surface of your teeth: The tooth enamel will slowly be dissolved by this slowly expanding hollow. In these cases, it may be avoided or even reversed, with good dental care. This type of dental decay between teeth usually affects people in their 20s. 
  • Pit and fissure decay: Cavities develop on the chewing surface of your teeth’s upper half. The front surface of your rear teeth may also be affected by decay. Pit and fissure deterioration usually begins in adolescence and advances rapidly. 
  • The decay of your tooth root. Gum recession increases the risk of root damage in adults. Gum recession lets acid and dental plaque reach the roots of your teeth. It is challenging to cure and prevent root decay. If you are at risk for gum recession, consult a periodontist or ask your dentist to advise you so you can set an appointment. .
Tooth ache because of cavities

The Formation Of Cavities

As you should know by now the main cause of cavities is tooth decay. This whole process takes some time so it is possible to prevent it. However, the whole process involves: 

Plaque Forms

Dental plaque is like a clear sticky film that covers the surface of your teeth. This can happen due to sugar consumption and improper teeth cleaning. If they are not cleaned properly the bacteria in your mouth will start to feed causing plaque. Once not cleaned properly it can harden under and above your teeth and form into tartar. . this will create a shield for bacteria and make plaque harder to clean. After it has developed it will not be removed on its own but you will need to visit a dentist. 

Plaque Attacks

The strong enamel on your teeth is stripped of minerals by the acids produced by bacteria. Cavities begin as a result of microscopic holes or gaps in the enamel caused by attrition. The dentin, the next layer of your teeth, is susceptible to acid and germs once sections of enamel have worn away. Because this layer is less acid-resistant and softer than enamel, it makes your teeth more vulnerable. 

Damage Continues

The bacteria and acid that cause dental decay travel through your teeth to the pulp, or inner tooth structure, which is home to blood vessels and nerves. The bacterium causes the pulp to swell and become irritating. The tooth’s nerve becomes compressed and becomes painful since there is nowhere inside the tooth for the swelling to spread. An adjacent tooth may also experience bone loss due to discomfort and injury that occasionally extends beyond the tooth root to the bone. 

Common foods that cause cavities and tooth decay

What Causes Cavities?

As we mentioned before there are a lot of factors that play a role in the formation of cavities. One of the most important reasons is that the sugar you consume will feed the bacteria in your mouth and these bacteria will convert them into acids. If not washed properly this bacteria will mix with foods and saliva forming a dental plaque. This is a sticky-like substance that will cover your teeth and coat them. With time it will dissolve the tooth enamel, and create cavities or holes, making them look rotten. 

What Are The Risk Factors For Cavities?

The risk of cavities increases when:

  • You have a dry mouth. This can happen due to a lot of factors including certain medications or medical conditions.
  • Eating a lot of sugar and snacking between meals. 
  • Your tooth decay issues come from genetics.
  • You have gum recession.
  • You have had radiation therapy previously to treat cancer. 


Depending on how many and where you have cavities, different symptoms can be present. In the early stages of a cavity, you might not experience any symptoms. As the deterioration grows, it might manifest symptoms like: 

  • Toothache or any similar pain in your teeth area.
  • Mild, sharp pain or tooth sensitivity when you consume something hot or cold. 
  • Visible holes or pits in your teeth. 
  • Stains on your teeth that can be brown, black, or white. 
  • Pain when you apply pressure on your teeth. 
The stages of tooth decay and cavity formation

Tooth Decay Stages

Your teeth might have cavities in any layer. There are five primary phases of dental decay that you should know about: 

  1. Demineralization

Demineralization is the first stage of tooth decay and during this stage, you can see small, chalky white spots on the surface of your teeth. This is because the minerals are breaking down in your tooth enamel. 

  1. Enamel Decay

If it’s not treated during the demineralization phase, the tooth decay will progress and continue to break down your enamel making the holes and discoloration more visible. During this phase, the spots white in color may start to turn into a light brownish color. 

  1. Dentin Decay

The layer directly below your tooth enamel is called dentin. It is far more elastic than your enamel. So, cavities form more quickly once plaque and bacteria enter this layer. Teeth sensitivity may become apparent at this point. Your teeth’s spots can also become a deeper shade of brown. 

  1. Pulp Damage

The deepest layer of your tooth is called the pulp. It has blood vessels and nerves that carry nutrients and maintain the viability of your tooth. You could experience discomfort when cavities enter your pulp. The gums surrounding your tooth may also begin to swell and turn red. Your teeth may develop deeper brown or black patches.

  1. Abscessed Tooth

A deep cavity might get infected if left untreated. A pocket of pus (periapical abscess) grows near the tip of your tooth root as a result of this. One or more of the symptoms might be jaw or facial discomfort. 

Additionally, you can experience swelling in your face and neck lymph nodes. A dental abscess has the potential to spread to other parts of your body and the surrounding tissues at this phase. In rare situations, infection might spread to the brain or circulation (sepsis). 

Dental treatment for cavities and tooth decay

Management And Treatment

How Do You Get Rid Of Cavities?

Depending on the severity of the tooth decay, the treatment can be:

  • Flouride treatment.
  • Dental fillings. 
  • Rooth canal procedure. 
  • Extraction of the impacted tooth. 


Fluoride treatments can restore damaged enamel at the very early stages of tooth decay; this process is known as remineralization. Early cavities symptoms can be reversed by doing this. Fluoride treatments at the dentist’s office as well as prescription toothpaste and mouthwash may be necessary. 

Dental Fillings

A dentist will drill out the decaying tissue and fill the hole in your tooth after it has formed. Dental fillings can be made of gold, silver amalgam, or composite resin, which is tooth-colored. 

Root Canal Therapy

Advanced tooth decay is made easier to live with after a root canal treatment. Typically, endodontists—specialists who address problems affecting a tooth’s root—carry out the operation. The pulp of the tooth is removed by an endodontist during a root canal treatment, and the canals and pulp chamber are subsequently filled with a special filling material. In certain situations, a dental crown may also be necessary to reinforce the damaged tooth. 

Tooth Extraction

Your doctor could advise tooth extraction (removing the tooth) if root canal treatment is not an option. To replace a lost permanent tooth, you might need a dental bridge or implant. You can learn more about your particular options from your dentist.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Common Are Cavities?

By the time we reach their mid-30s, almost 80% of the world population have had at least one tooth extracted. And one of the main reasons that cause this is cavities.

Who Might Get A Cavity?

Although dental cavities are more frequent in young people, tooth decay can occur at any age. This is a result of the fact that many kids overindulge in sugary meals and beverages and neglect to brush correctly or frequently enough. Adults are also prone to cavities. New deterioration can occasionally appear around the periphery of cavities that were filled as children. Gum recession is also more common in adults. This condition exposes the roots of your teeth to plaque, which can lead to cavities. 

Are Cavities Contagious?

Although cavities cannot be “caught,” the germs that cause them can spread from person to person. In the meantime, over time, any germs you get from another person—by kissing, for example—can result in tooth decay and other problems with your oral health. 

How Are Cavities Diagnosed?

The best method to detect cavities early, before they progress or get larger, is to have dental exams twice a year. A dentist will inspect your teeth with a variety of tools. When your dentist probes a tooth, it will feel softer if it has a cavity. Dental X-rays could also be taken by your dentist. Prior to the degradation becoming apparent, these photos reveal holes. 

What Can I Expect If I Have Cavities?

Too much time without treatment for dental decay might cause you to lose a lot of tooth structure and require extraction. A dental abscess, or serious infection inside your tooth and behind your gums, can result from advanced tooth decay. Your body may become infected and spread throughout.  In rare cases, a tooth abscess infection can be dangerous. 

What Does A Cavity Look Like?

Even though cavities are difficult to detect in the early stages, you may see a tiny patch of white, powdery enamel on your teeth. You can notice brown or black patches on your teeth as the cavity becomes worse.

Teeth discoloration may be caused by both stains and cavities, therefore it’s common to mix them up. Cavities often have a deeper color than stains. Furthermore, many teeth are typically affected by staining. However, the likelihood is that if you notice a single, small spot on a tooth, it is a cavity. Give our dentist a call as soon as you suspect you may have a cavity. Timely and efficient care is essential.

What Does A Cavity Feel Like?

Depending on how bad the tooth rot is you won’t feel it. For example, if the cavity is really small and simply affects your enamel. However, discomfort or sensitivity to cold, heat, or sweets may happen when decay reaches the inner layers of your tooth. Having sensitive teeth is not necessarily indicative of a cavity. However, it’s a good idea to get it examined, just in case.

What Happens If You Have A Cavity For A Long Time?

Over time, little tooth cavities grow into larger ones. The deeper layers of your teeth are impacted by decay as it progresses. Pain, infection, and eventually tooth loss may result from this. For long-term dental health, early treatment is crucial. 

Can A Cavity Heal On Its Own?

Actually, it is possible to reverse cavities in their very early phases. Enamel on teeth is self-repairing. With fluoride treatments and better dental hygiene, you might be able to remineralize your teeth if a cavity is extremely tiny and hasn’t yet penetrated through your enamel. But keep in mind that you will require a filling, crown, or other dental restoration to repair the cavity if it extends to your dentin. 

If A Cavity Hurts, Is It Too Late?

Painful cavities indicate that the decay has advanced to the tooth’s deeper layers. You’ll need a dentist to fix the cavity at this point. A dentist might be able to preserve your tooth if you receive prompt treatment.

Most dentists would rather keep your natural teeth intact. You could need a tooth extraction if the damage is too big or if a cavity causes an abscessed tooth. A dentist can go over all of your treatment choices with you and then you will decide.

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