Patient Education

The Basics of Cavities

From an early age, the threat of cavities has been in the back of our minds. We know that if we don’t eat well and brush our teeth, we run the risk of getting a cavity. But, that’s all many of us understand about the ailment. Here are a few things you need to know about the basics of cavities, from their causes and symptoms to treatment and prevention.


Cavity is a dental term that simply means “tooth decay.” Your teeth are shielded by enamel but a number of factors, including diet and oral habits, can wear down this protective coating. Once enamel is gone, your teeth are exposed to acids and plaque and after a while, can begin to decay from this build-up.


Some cavity sufferers never feel anything and only find out about their ailment during their routine dental appointment. However, there are symptoms to look out for. If you feel any oral pain, mention it to your dentist at your next check-up or call for a sooner appointment. Pain when biting or general toothaches are common, as well as sensitivity to foods that are sweet, hot, or cold.


When your dentist has determined that there is indeed a cavity, he or she will then decide on the best course of action. If your cavity is in early stages, you might only need an extra fluoride treatment or calcium boost. If the cavity is in more advanced stages, you may need a filling, cap, or even a root canal. Fillings are the most common form of treatment, however, and are a fairly simple procedure that will have you out of pain and back to normal in no time.


Healthy oral care can prevent the loss of enamel and decrease the likelihood of cavity development. For best results, brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste, floss regularly, and avoid sugary or acidic foods.

No one ever wants a cavity, but knowing how they form, what to look for, and being prepared just in case can make the whole process go smoother. Or, this knowledge may even help you prevent getting one in the first place.

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