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Tooth Decay and Cavities – Causes, Signs & Symptoms, and Treatment

What is Tooth Decay?

When tooth enamel start getting soft, tooth decay starts developing and causes damage to the structure of the tooth. It happens due to acids which are formed when plaque breaks down sugar particles in the mouth. If it is left without cure, it causes a hole in the tooth or cavity. These holes grow bigger eventually and damage the complete tooth.

The plaque acids don’t stop and affect the next layer of the tooth and cause root cavity. Hence, it exposes the teeth nerves and you might suffer pain when you drink or eat. If the area around tooth’s root is painful, it is important to ask a dentist as it might be tooth decay. So, you should take good care of teeth to prevent painful tooth decay and maintain good overall health.

What are the Causes?

  • Poor oral hygiene – Irregular brushing cause plaque buildup and tooth enamel can be affected.
  • Formation of plaque – The main cause of plaque is the formation of bacteria, food particles, acid and saliva. It sticks to the teeth and builds up with time. It attacks tooth enamel and causes holes in the teeth.
  • Dry mouth – Plaque of the teeth is washed away by saliva. Plaque builds up quickly if the mouth remains dry.
  • Drinking and eating – Since we cannot avoid eating and drinking, it is very vital to brush your teeth at least twice a day. Food which stuck in your teeth increases the risk of tooth decay.
  • Acid and Bacteria – Our mouth naturally has bacteria. These bacteria digest the carbs lingering on our teeth. But they also form acids.

What are the signs of tooth decay?

  • Pain – It is one of the most common signs of cavities.
  • Pressure – Pain and increased sensitivity when biting is the sign of cavity.
  • Pus around the teeth – It is one of the most common and serious signs of cavity.
  • Pits – There is a noticeable pit or hole in the affected tooth. Dental x-rays are the only mediums to track holes.

How to Get Rid of Tooth Decay?

  • Toothbrush – We all know that brushing our teeth keeps our mouth clean. But we don’t even think about a variety of toothbrush. So, make your due diligence as there are hundreds of varieties available. Choose the one which can reach all areas of the teeth. Also, find a toothbrush which has tongue cleaner textured.
  • Toothpaste – It is very vital for oral hygiene. Choose a toothpaste which is ADA-approved for gingivitis, cavities, plaque, sensitivity, whitening and foul odour.
  • Floss – Flossing helps remove food leftovers off the teeth and avoid tooth decay.
  • Mouthwash – It is the final step in the daily oral care routine. It kills the bacteria causing gingivitis and plaque.


Tooth decay can affect even those who are very conscious and dedicated to oral hygiene and health. The key here is early diagnosis and treatment. The dental filling is widely recommended by dentists. The decayed part of the tooth is drilled and replaced with tough filling made of porcelain, composite resins, silver, amalgam and gold. There are some advanced treatments for high cavities like root canals and crowns.