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How Cavities Form and What You Can Do to Prevent Them

How Cavities Form and What You Can Do to Prevent Them

Cavities are caused by tooth decay, which can affect both the enamel (outer coating) of a tooth and the dentin (inner coating). People may also develop a cavity under a crown, or around existing fillings. They can be painful, especially depending on the size and unfortunately do not go away on their own, so early treatment for cavities is essential to keep your teeth as healthy as possible. Utilizing your dental benefits regularly is a great way to stay on top of your dental health.

Signs You Might Have a Cavity or a Cavity Under a Crown

There are a number of different symptoms that can alert you to the fact that you might have a cavity, depending on the size and location of the cavity in question. Oftentimes, your symptoms will get worse as the cavity grows. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Sensitive teeth
  • Holes in your teeth
  • Pain when biting down
  • Toothache or pain that occurs without warning
  • Sensitivity and pain when eating or drinking hot, cold, or sweet things.


What Causes Cavities?

When carbohydrate-heavy foods such as cereal, bread, soda, milk, fruit, candy, or cake stay on your teeth, they can cause decay. Bacteria in your mouth turns them into acid, which when combined with food debris and saliva creates plaque that sticks to your teeth. When the enamel on your teeth is dissolved by the acids in the plaque, cavities are formed. Sometimes, a cavity will form under a crown or around an existing filling.

Cavities can happen to anyone, but there are some key factors that can increase your chances of developing cavities:

  • Poor brushing habits
  • Dry mouth
  • Sugary and acid foods in your diet
  • Lack of fluoride
  • Acid reflux disease

Cavity Treatment

Regular dental checkups and cleaning are key to catching cavities early. Your dentist will check your teeth for soft spots, or will take X-rays to examine between your teeth. Depending on how severe the cavity is, treatments will vary.

  • Fillings – After removing the decayed portion of your tooth, your dentist will fill the hole with a filling.
  • Crowns – When a tooth is decayed so badly that there is not much healthy enamel left to work with, dentists will use a crown. The crown is made to fit over your tooth.
  • Root Canal – If the cavity is very large and close (or into) the nerve of the tooth you will require a root canal. The dentist will remove the decayed portions of the tooth and clean out the infected nerve tissue. Once it is disinfected it will be sealed. Because root canal treated teeth become more brittle than “live” teeth, a crown is usually recommended to cover and protect the tooth.

While cavities often start out small, they can quickly grow larger and become a more serious issue. It is important to schedule dentist appointments regularly to maintain good tooth health and help prevent cavities overall.


Think you might have a cavity? Book an appointment with us today to help get the treatment you need.