You only get so much tooth enamel in a lifetime. Take good care of it.


Symptoms of a Cavity


Dental cavities form when minerals are lost and the tooth enamel breaks down in three areas: smooth surface, pit and fissures, and root decay. The enamel is the hard, outer layer of the tooth, essentially the first line of defense. Unlike other parts of your body, it accumulates on the teeth. The acids attack the surface layer creating small holes. An untreated cavity is permanent damage to the tooth's enamel.

Are the first symptoms of a dental cavity harmless? The short answer is no. So the next time your child mentions any of the following symptoms, help protect their enamel and schedule an appointment for the proper treatment. Better still, stay on top of those routine dental exams. Your enamel will thank you.



person with toothache


bacteria alert

Visible Tooth Holes

Tooth with holes

Brown, Black or White Tooth Stains

Decaying tooth
Kid with skateboard and yellow background

Methods for Treating Cavities


One treatment doesn't cure all. There are different options available depending on the stage of the cavity.



The most common treatment: cavity filling. The tooth-colored material is used when the cavity is past the early stage.

Dental Crowns

Once a cavity becomes severe, a crown restores a tooth's size, shape, and strength. After removing the decay, a crown is molded to fill its place

Tooth Extraction

Extreme decay calls for removal of the infected tooth. Ask your dentist about a bridge or dental implant to replace the extracted tooth.

Root Canal

To avoid having to remove a tooth, an endondontist might recommend a root canal, where infected nerve tissue is removed.

Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride helps restore a tooth's enamel and even reverses decay in the earliest stages of developing cavities.

Poor dental hygiene can lead to severe health conditions.


What is a tooth cavity?

A tooth cavity, also referred to as tooth decay, is permanent damage to a tooth’s enamel. Enamel is the hard surface found on the outer layer of every tooth. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that develops on your teeth. Eating and drinking foods that are high in sugar cause the bacteria in plaque to produce acids. Those acids attack tooth enamel. Cavities form when tooth enamel begins to break down.


Cavities begin as small holes in a tooth’s surface. A cavity becomes more prominent and more profound over time if it is left untreated. They can cause severe toothache, infections, and tooth loss. You might also observe white spots forming on your teeth. That is a sign of early tooth decay as it means minerals have been lost in those areas. The decay can be reversed at this point since it is early in the process. Tooth enamel can repair itself using fluoride in toothpaste and minerals in your saliva.


Tooth decay comes in three varieties: smooth surface, pits and fissures, and root decay. Smooth surface tooth decay is the loss of tooth enamel. Cavities grow slowly during this process, so there is time to identify the issue and potentially reverse it. People in their 20s tend to deal with this decay. Pits and fissures are found on the top part of a tooth’s chewing surface. Teenagers are susceptible to this quick-developing decay.


Root decay occurs in areas of gum recession since the tooth’s root is exposed to plaque and acid. This decay type is challenging to prevent and treat. Root decay is usually found in older patients. Children and adults can both suffer from cavities, though young children are more susceptible. Cavities are more of a problem for adults when they age due to gum recession.

Toothpaste toothbrush

Best Techniques for cavity prevention

A skilled general dentist can treat cavities using a variety of methods depending on the severity of the cavity. Patients should try to prevent tooth decay naturally before they reach the point of needing a dental procedure to repair a dental cavity. There are plenty of strategies you can employ to stop a cavity before it gets started.


Brush Teeth Regularly

Brushing your teeth is the first line of defense when it comes to how to prevent tooth decay. It would help if you brushed at least twice daily. Try to brush after every meal, if possible, using toothpaste that contains fluoride.


Use Dental Floss

Regular flossing should go together with brushing. Using dental floss or other interdental cleaners removes particles between teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach. Those particles can result in plaque buildup on teeth. Failure to remove that plaque can cause cavities. Plaque can also cause tartar to collect on teeth. Only a dentist can remove tartar. However, your dentist can show you proper flossing techniques at one of your checkups.


Eat Healthily

Diet also plays a role in preventing cavities. Nutritious foods and drinks are not only good for your overall health but also your mouth health. Limit foods and beverages high in sugar since too many of those can lead to cavity creation. Also, avoid foods that can get stuck in the cracks and crevices between teeth. Brush your tooth soon after consuming those foods. Then, substitute those foods with fresh fruits and vegetables as they increase saliva flow. Drinking unsweetened coffee, tea, and chewing sugar-free gum will also help remove food particles that get stuck in your teeth.


Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride is a mineral used to prevent tooth decay progression by preventing mineral loss in enamel and replacing lost minerals. It also inhibits bacteria’s ability to produce acid. Drinking fluoridated water from your local water supply and brushing with a toothpaste that contains fluoride are two simple ways to get fluoride. A dentist can also apply fluoride gels to teeth, prescribe fluoride tablets, and recommend a mouth wash that contains fluoride.


Regular Dentist Visits

Scheduling regular teeth cleanings and oral exams should be a crucial part of any oral care plan. A dentist is your mouth health partner who can provide you with strategies to prevent tooth decay while also fixing any oral issues that arise.


Use Dental Sealants

Dental sealants are thin coatings that are applied to the surfaces of your molars. Those teeth have uneven chewing surfaces due to the tiny pits and grooves found on the surfaces. Those pits and grooves provide ample spots for food particles and bacteria to collect. A typical toothbrush struggles to remove them due to the uneven surface. Dental sealants form a protective barrier over those surfaces that prevent food and bacteria buildup.


Consult your dentist about having your children’s permanent molars sealed. The six-year molars tend to emerge between ages five (5) and seven (7), while the 12-year molars typically come through between ages eleven (11) and fourteen (14).


Mouth Rinses

A mouth rinse is another means of preventing cavities. It works well when used in combination with brushing and flossing. Choose a rinse that contains fluoride as it negates the acids that attack tooth enamel. The fluoride is absorbed into the enamel. It replenishes the lost calcium and phosphorus in your teeth. Mouth rinses that contain fluoride are available over-the-counter or as prescription strength through your dentist.


Illustration of a dentist and dental hygienist washing a giant tooth on a blue background

Book an Appointment Today


If you’re suffering from cavity symptoms, consult your dentist to discuss the best methods for cavity prevention and treatment.


What Toothpaste Helps Prevent Cavities

A key component to properly brushing your teeth is using the correct type of toothpaste. A toothpaste that contains fluoride is the most effective kind when it comes to preventing cavities. Fluoride, a mineral in nature, works well to prevent cavities by remineralizing tooth enamel in areas where the enamel has weakened. Brushing your teeth regularly with fluoride-containing toothpaste strengthens the overall tooth enamel and fortifies your teeth against harmful plaque.

Toothpaste toothbrush

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