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Understanding Dental Caries: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

What Are Dental Caries?

Dental caries are also known as tooth decay and it is a common oral health problem that affects the all ages of people. It is characterized by the formation of a void or aperture in a tooth because of the corrosion of its solid external layer known as enamel, which is caused by acidic substances generated by bacteria in the mouth. 

If left untreated, dental caries can cause pain, discomfort, and even tooth loss.  Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent and treat dental caries, and your local dental clinic in Jalandhar is here to help.  In this article, we will explore the what dental caries are, their causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment.


Types of Cavities / Dental Caries


There exist various forms of cavities that can develop on distinct surfaces of teeth. Presented below are some prevalent types of cavities along with their respective locations:

  • Cavities on smooth surfaces

These cavities gradually erode the enamel of the teeth and mostly emerge between them. By following good oral hygiene protocols, it is possible to deter the occurrence of this type of tooth decay, and at times, even reverse its effects. Individuals in their twenties are more susceptible to this variety of tooth decay.

  • Cavities on pit and fissure surfaces

These cavities manifest on the teeth’s biting surfaces, especially in the ridges and grooves. They tend to materialize during teenage years and progress hastily.

  • Dentin

Dentin is a less dense and softer tissue than enamel, making it more susceptible to damage from acid. It also contains tiny tubes that communicate directly with the nerve of the tooth, causing sensitivity.

  • Cavities on root surfaces

Adults with gum recession are more susceptible to developing root cavities. The recession of gums exposes tooth roots to dental plaque and acidic substances that can induce decay. Root cavities are challenging to prevent and treat; therefore, individuals who are prone to gum recession must seek advice from a dentist or periodontist for proper treatment.

It is crucial to maintain good oral hygiene, which includes regular brushing and flossing, and to visit a dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings to prevent and combat cavities.


How common are cavities?

Cavities are a common dental condition that affects people of all ages. In fact, more than 80% of Indian will have at least one cavity by their mid-30s. Cavities are considered to be one of the most prevalent chronic diseases worldwide.


Who might get a cavity?

While tooth decay can happen at any age, children are more prone to developing cavities due to their lack of proper oral hygiene habits and a diet high in sugary foods and drinks. However, adults can also get cavities, particularly around the edges of cavities that were treated during childhood. Adults are also more likely to have receding gums, which can expose the tooth roots to plaque and lead to cavities.

It’s important to practice good oral hygiene habits and visit a dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings to prevent and treat cavities, regardless of age.



Cavities can manifest in a variety of symptoms, which depend on the location and severity of the decay. In the early stages of a cavity, there may be no noticeable symptoms. 

As the decay progresses, several signs and symptoms may occur, including toothache or pain in the affected tooth, sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, pain while eating or drinking something sweet, hot, or cold, visible holes or pits in the teeth, discoloration or staining on the surface of the tooth, and pain while biting down.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s crucial to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment of cavities can prevent the decay from progressing and causing further damage to the tooth. Don’t wait until the pain becomes unbearable, as the problem will only worsen over time. Taking proactive steps towards maintaining good oral health can save you from future dental complications and keep your teeth healthy for a lifetime.


When to see a dentist?

It is important to visit your dentist regularly, even if you are not experiencing any symptoms, as cavities may not cause any noticeable pain or discomfort until they have progressed significantly. It is generally recommended to have a dental checkup and cleaning every six months to maintain good oral health and detect any potential issues early on.

Early detection and treatment of cavities can prevent the decay from worsening and causing more serious dental problems.

If you are due for a dental checkup or experiencing any dental symptoms, contact Nuface Dental Implant Center dentist to request an appointment. They can evaluate your oral health and provide appropriate treatment to address any concerns.



They are caused by tooth decay, a process that happens gradually over time. Here is a breakdown of how tooth decay develops and leads to cavities:

  • Plaque Formation

Dental plaque is a thin, clear, and sticky film that coats the teeth. It is formed due to the consumption of sugary and starchy foods and not cleaning the teeth properly. If not cleaned off, bacteria feed on these food particles and create plaque. Plaque can then harden into tartar, making it harder to remove and creating a protective shield for bacteria.

  • Plaque Attacks

The acids in plaque start removing the minerals in the tooth’s hard, outer enamel. This process causes tiny openings or holes in the enamel, which is the first stage of cavities. After the enamel of a tooth has worn away, harmful bacteria and acid can begin to affect the dentin layer beneath it, potentially leading to tooth decay and other dental problems.

  • Destruction Continues

As tooth decay progresses, the bacteria and acid move towards the inner tooth material called pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels. When bacteria penetrates the tooth, the pulp can become inflamed and irritated, leading to swelling and discomfort.

However, as there is no space for swelling inside the tooth, the nerve becomes compressed, leading to pain. This discomfort can even spread outside of the tooth root and affect the surrounding bone.

Preventing cavities involves maintaining good oral hygiene, such as brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, flossing regularly, and avoiding sugary and starchy foods. It is also important to visit the dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings to prevent or catch cavities early.

Risk factors

Anyone with teeth can get cavities, but certain factors increase the risk.

  • Cavities often occur in the back teeth due to their many grooves and crevices that can collect food particles.
  • Foods that stick to your teeth for a long time, such as sugary snacks and drinks, can contribute to decay.
  • Frequent snacking or sipping on sugary drinks provides mouth bacteria with fuel to produce acids that wear down teeth.
  • Feeding infants sugary drinks before bedtime can lead to baby bottle tooth decay.
  • Inadequate brushing allows plaque to form quickly, which can lead to the beginning stages of decay.
  • Lack of fluoride, a mineral that helps prevent cavities, can increase the risk of tooth damage.
  • Young children, teenagers, and older adults are at a higher risk of cavities due to teeth and gum changes and the use of medications that reduce saliva flow.
  • Dry mouth, caused by a lack of saliva, can increase the risk of cavities by allowing food and plaque to remain on teeth.
  • Worn fillings or dental devices can create places for plaque to build up and make it harder to remove.
  • Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause stomach acid to wear away enamel and lead to significant tooth damage.
  • Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, can cause tooth erosion and cavities due to repeated vomiting and interference with saliva production.



Cavities and tooth decay are common but can lead to serious and lasting complications, even in children with baby teeth. These complications may include:

  • Pain
  • Tooth abscess
  • Swelling or pus around a tooth
  • Damage or broken teeth
  • Chewing problems
  • Shifting of teeth after tooth loss
  • Severe cavities and decay can cause:
  • Pain that interferes with daily life
  • Weight loss or nutrition problems due to painful or difficult eating or chewing
  • Tooth loss, which can affect appearance, confidence, and self-esteem
  • In rare cases, a tooth abscess, which can lead to more serious or even life-threatening infections.



Maintaining good oral and dental hygiene is crucial in preventing cavities and tooth decay. Here are some tips that can help you keep your teeth healthy and cavity-free:

  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste after eating or drinking. Brush your teeth with fluoride-containing toothpaste after eating or drinking anything. This helps remove plaque and strengthen tooth enamel.
  • Rinse your mouth. Use a mouth rinse with fluoride if your dentist recommends it.
  • Visit your dentist regularly. Get professional teeth cleanings and regular oral exams to prevent problems or spot them early.
  • Consider dental sealants. Dental sealants are a protective plastic coating applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth. They can last for several years and protect tooth enamel from plaque and acid.
  • Try drinking tap water. Most public water supplies contain fluoride, which can significantly reduce tooth decay. If you only drink bottled water without fluoride, you’ll miss out on its benefits.
  • Avoid frequent snacking and sipping. When you consume any food or drink, except for water, it aids the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids that can damage your tooth enamel.
  • Eat tooth-healthy foods. Try to avoid consuming foods that tend to stick in the grooves and pits of your teeth for extended periods. If you do eat these foods, brush soon after. However, consuming fresh fruits and vegetables can increase the production of saliva in your mouth, which helps to wash away food particles. Similarly, drinking unsweetened coffee or tea or chewing sugar-free gum can also help to remove food particles from your teeth.
  • Consider fluoride treatments. Your dentist may recommend periodic fluoride treatments or custom trays that fit over your teeth for application of prescription fluoride.
  • Ask about antibacterial treatments: If you’re vulnerable to tooth decay, your dentist may recommend special antibacterial mouth rinses or other treatments to help reduce harmful bacteria in your mouth.


How do you get rid of cavities?

Cavities are a prevalent dental problem caused by tooth decay. Different treatments are available for cavities, and the appropriate one depends on the extent of the decay. Some common treatments for cavities include:

  • Fluoride

In the early stages of tooth decay, fluoride treatments can repair damaged enamel through remineralization. This can help to reverse the early signs of cavities. Your dentist may recommend prescription toothpaste and mouthwash, as well as fluoride treatments at the dental office.

  • Dental fillings

If a cavity has formed in your tooth, a dentist will drill out the decayed tissue and fill the hole with a dental filling. This treatment is effective in preventing further damage and restoring the tooth’s function and appearance.

  • Root canal therapy

Advanced tooth decay can cause pain, and root canal treatment can relieve the pain. Endodontists, specialists who treat issues affecting a tooth’s root, usually perform the procedure. During root canal treatment, the endodontist removes the tooth pulp, fills the canals and pulp chamber with gutta-percha (a special filling material), and in some cases, a dental crown may be necessary to strengthen the affected tooth.

  • Tooth extraction

In cases where root canal therapy is not possible, a healthcare provider may recommend tooth extraction (pulling the tooth). After a tooth extraction, you may need a dental bridge or dental implant to replace a pulled permanent tooth. 

  • Crowns:

In cases of severe decay or weakened teeth, a crown may be necessary. A crown is a custom-made covering that replaces the entire natural crown of your tooth. To ensure a proper fit, your dentist removes all of the decayed area and a sufficient amount of the rest of the tooth. Crowns can be made from materials such as gold, high-strength porcelain, resin, porcelain fused to metal, or other materials.

In summary, while home remedies such as oil pulling, chewing gum, and licorice lollipops may provide some benefits in preventing and treating cavities, they cannot replace professional dental care.

Fluoride treatments, fillings, root canal therapy, and tooth extraction are some of the common treatments for cavities that your dentist may recommend depending on the severity of your condition. Maintaining good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly can help detect and treat cavities at an early stage, making it easier to repair and prevent further damage.