Why Do We Have Tooth Decay or Cavity, and Can We Treat It?

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What is a Cavity?

Tooth decay is the loosening of one’s tooth enamel and refers to the injury to the structure of the tooth probably caused by acids that are formed when plaque bacteria disintegrate sugar in the mouth. If the mineral loss from the enamel is left uncured, a cavity, or aperture in the tooth, may eventually occur. Without healing, these apertures can grow wider over time and may even damage the whole tooth.

If you have exposed roots and gum recessions, plaque acids may strike dentin and cause what is referred to as a root cavity. As a result, teeth nerves become exposed, and you may suffer pain whenever you drink or eat. If you experience pain near the origin of your tooth, chances remain that you may have some tooth decay, and you may need to consult with a dental professional.

Taking exceptional care of your teeth is a requisite part of keeping the overall health and wellness of your teeth, and that also includes stopping the dreaded dental cavity. A dental cavity is among the most common outcome of tooth decay and could be a mark of poor oral hygiene and health.

A tooth consists of 3 layers. According to the American Dental Association (ADA):


Tooth enamel is the solid outer layer that shields the inner layers of a tooth. Enamel contains does not consist of any living cells and is the toughest structure in the entire human body.


Dentin is the next layer of a tooth. When the first layer (enamel) is damaged, it may set open the dentin. Small hoses within the dentin allow cold and hot food to stimulate the tooth nerves. The stimulation of these tooth nerves can cause sensitivity and pain in the tooth.


The pulp is the interior of the tooth. The pulp has nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue.

Tooth decay may occur in degrees of severity. Damage from the cavity can range from initiating wear and tear to the enamel to painful sore within the tooth pulp.

What are the Main Causes of Tooth Decay and Cavities?

There are several steps necessary for tooth decay to form, ranging from demineralization (tooth mineral loss) to eating deep into the tooth to trigger a cavity. Tooth decay may also occur when foods rich in carbohydrates become trapped in-between teeth and are not removed with flossing and brushing.

Major causes of cavity and tooth decay are sticky foods, sugary, and beverages. The more sugar eating, the more the acid is produced, leading to decay. Sugar mix with a plaque to give in into the enamel, thus leaving you susceptive to tooth decay. Every single time you consume a sugary snack, your teeth become sensitive to damage from the acids within the next 20 minutes. It is vital to learn of the causes of cavity and tooth decay so you can learn the right approach to care for your teeth and your overall health.

Some Cavity and Tooth Decay Factors

Poor Oral Hygiene Practices

Poor oral hygiene does not only include not brushing one’s teeth regularly, but also not brushing your tongue, not flossing frequently, and not using mouth wash. You are enjoined to brush your teeth at least two times a day (morning and night), but it is really crucial to brush after every meal. And always remember to brush for a minimum of two minutes. Set a little time when you want to brush to ensure that you brush the teeth for the complete two minutes. Improper oral hygiene will, of course, lead to tooth decay. Tooth decay due to improper oral hygiene is avoidable.

Plaque Formation

When not cleaned on a regular basis, plaque sticks to your teeth and accumulates over time. In the presence of sugar, plaque generates acid, which attacks the enamel of one’s tooth and eventually can cause apertures in the teeth, also known as cavities.

Dry Mouth

Saliva aids in washing plaque from your teeth and buffer the acid. If you have a desiccated mouth with very little plaque, saliva, and tooth bacteria may accumulate more rapidly.

Sugary Foods

Sugary foods are always the favorite media for the bacteria in your mouth. The bacteria feed off of sugary items and then start to coat your teeth in harmful acid. All these can happen in a matter of seconds and may occur multiple times within just a meal, which is the reason it is required of you to brush your teeth after every meal to eradicate acid. When considering sugary foods, you are more likely to think of “candy” and items like that, when in fact, there are lots of foods that are packed in “hidden sugars.” So always be careful and be on the lookout for concealed sugars. Remember that sugary drinks like juice are as damaging to your teeth just as soda.

Plaque Bacteria and Acid

While most folks do not want to think about it, bacteria normally live in our mouths and on our teeth. When the bacteria take in the carbohydrates that linger on our teeth and mouth, acid develops.

Medical Problems

Some types of cancer therapy that predispose the neck and head to radiation can trigger a tooth cavity by changing the composition of the saliva to promote bacterial growth.

Improper Nutrition

a collection of sugary foodsDoing away with foods that are high in sugar, carbohydrates, and acid is the best approach to avoid cavity due to improper nutrition. Consuming a healthy diet and the avoidance of acidic, sugary drinks is the best approach to go.

Risk Factors of Cavities

Everybody is at risk for cavities, but some folks have an increased risk. Risk factors may include:

  • Excess acidic or sugary foods and drinks
  • Questionable oral hygiene routine, such as failing to floss or brush daily
  • Not getting adequate fluoride
  • Dry mouth
  • Eating malfunction (such as bulimia and anorexia)
  • Acid reflux issue, which may result in wearing down of your tooth enamel by stomach acid.

Cavities build up more often in the rear teeth, according to some specialists. These teeth have openings and grooves that can entrap food elements. Also, the teeth are sometimes difficult to reach when flossing and brushing.

Symptoms of Tooth Decay

The symptoms and signs of cavities vary, depending on their location and extent. When tooth decay is just starting, you may not have any signs at all. As the corrosion gets larger, it may bring about signs and symptoms like:

  • Toothache with spontaneous pain
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Mild to severe pain when drinking or eating something hot, sweet, or cold
  • Visible pits or holes in your teeth
  • White, brown, or black stain on the surface of a tooth
  • Pain whenever you bite down

Therapy Options for Tooth Cavities

Tell your medical health care about uncomfortable signs such as pain or sensitivity. Your dentist should also be able to identify cavities after an oral exam. The Healthline tool can provide alternatives in your location if you do not already have a dentist. However, some tooth decays are not easily seen from an oral exam. So your health professional (dentist) may use a dental X-ray to find out any decay.

Treatment types depend on severity. There are various ways to cure a cavity.

Tooth Fillings

A dentist makes use of a drill and takes off decayed material from your tooth. Your dentist would then fill the affected tooth with substances like gold, silver, or composite resin.


For more serious decay, a dentist may put a custom-fit cap over the affected tooth to replace the natural teeth crown. Your dentist will also remove the rotting tooth material before beginning this process.

Root Canal

When a cavity causes the necrosis of your nerves, your tooth specialist (dentist) may perform a root canal to deliver your tooth. They remove the blood vessel tissues, nerve tissues, and any rotten areas of your tooth. Your dentist then examines for infections and applies drugs to the roots as required. Finally, they fill up the tooth, and a crown might be placed on it.

Early-stage Treatment

If the dentist also detects tooth decay in its early stage, fluoride therapy may refurbish your tooth and prevent further decay.

Dealing with Pain

soursopTooth decay and cavities can be the basis of a lot of discomfort and pain. You may want to discover ways to calm irritation while you wait for a dentist’s appointment. According to one or two studies, there are a few things one can do to get comfort temporarily:

Keep your oral hygiene routine active. Continue to clean and brush all your mouthparts, as well as any sensitive areas.

Use OTC (over-the-counter) pain relievers. Check with your dentist if you can use some OTC pain relief (anesthetics). Watch whatever you consume. Do away with extreme cold or hot foods or drinks.