Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in your mouth feed off sugary food and beverages and produce acids which break down tooth enamel, leaving white spots similar to chalk on your teeth that cause sensitivity. Left untreated, cavities (called caries) progress to dentin — the softer layer beneath enamel which contains nerve endings – becoming cavities (known as caries).


Some people develop cavities (also called caries) when bacteria collect on and between their teeth in a sticky, creamy-coloured mass called plaque. As the bacteria consume sugar from foods and liquids that you consume, their acid attacks the tooth enamel, eventually creating holes or cavities – sometimes mild but sometimes severe – leading to holes being created within. Most cavities tend to be mild to moderately painful but more severe ones may develop over time – many times only being detected during an x-ray exam or other forms of testing for other purposes.

Caries-causing organisms vary based on various factors such as:

Poor Oral Hygiene: Poor oral hygiene is one of the primary causes of cavities, as insufficient brushing and flossing habits contribute significantly. Bacteria that accumulate on teeth and gums produce plaque, an irritating film known as bacteria which adheres to teeth surfaces causing irritation as it breaks down enamel enamel into holes or cavities that eventually leave behind holes or cavities.

Diet: Consuming too many sugary, starchy foods and drinks encourages bacteria growth which, in turn, promotes tooth decay. Products like bread, cakes, sweets and soda contain sugar which the bacteria feed off of and convert into acid which erodes teeth enamel.

Age: As people get older, their gums recede more to reveal more of the roots of their teeth, leaving more opportunities for bacteria to attack these exposed surfaces and cause decay. This makes older individuals particularly prone to tooth decay.

Tooth Decaying Disease: Certain medical conditions and medications, such as xerostomia (dry mouth), diabetes, and prolonged corticosteroids use can increase the likelihood of tooth decay. A condition called rampant caries occurs when multiple teeth at once are affected by advanced tooth decay due to poor oral hygiene practices, consumption of sugary beverages/foods in large quantities or unregulated blood glucose levels.

Cavities can occur anywhere on your teeth surface, but they are particularly prevalent on the chewing surfaces of molars and grooved areas of premolars – areas which are hard to reach with a toothbrush, making plaque build-up likely. Furthermore, food debris often lodges itself between your molars which contributes to creating cavities.


As bacteria feed on sugars, they produce acid which wears away at your enamel and forms cavities or caries on your teeth. When these cavities grow in size, bacteria enter the dentin layer of your tooth causing an infection which irritates nerve endings resulting in pain, sensitivity or even abscesses on these irritated nerve endings and cause further nerve irritation or infection of an abscess on it’s own.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is essential that you visit a dentist as soon as possible to prevent the cavity from worsening and save your tooth from root canal treatment in the future. Early treatment could even prevent need for root canal treatment in some instances.

Tooth Sensitivity Tooth sensitivity is often an early telltale sign of cavities, caused by erosion of enamel and experienced when eating hot or cold food or drinks or when drinking sugary or acidic drinks. If this happens to you, use sensitive toothpaste and consult with a dentist as soon as possible for advice.

White spots or streaks on your teeth may be an indicator of tooth decay. At first, these spots might seem harmless enough, but eventually they’ll spread towards the center of each tooth and form holes in its enamel – making an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible important to address this potential problem. If you observe any such spots it is recommended that they get professionally examined immediately by an oral healthcare provider.

Bad breath is an indicator of tooth decay. The bacteria responsible for creating cavities also produces an offensive smell in your mouth – commonly referred to as halitosis. If persistent halitosis becomes a concern for you, make an appointment with your dentist so they can address it.

An obvious symptom of tooth decay is a visible hole, known as caries. Caries occurs gradually over time; at first it may only be small and barely detectable by sight, but as its progression advances it may become visibly larger until becoming visible to all but your closest eye.

Tooth decay’s most serious symptom is a pus-filled sac in your gum tissue (tooth abscess). If you experience swelling or tenderness in your gums, consult with a physician immediately as an abscess can spread rapidly and require antibiotic treatment in order to eliminate infections while decreasing inflammation.


Treatment options for tooth cavities depend on their severity and location of damage. A cavity in enamel is usually treated quickly while those affecting dentin may require more invasive procedures like root canals or crowns. Most dentists will use a dental drill to extract infected material before filling any empty spaces with composite resin or another substance; sometimes laughing gas (“laughing gas”) or prescription medications may be administered as additional pain relievers during or post procedure.

If your teeth are sensitive and painful, make an appointment to visit your dentist as soon as possible for an exam and cleaning. A regular dental visit can detect cavities early when they’re still easy to treat.

Regular professional cleanings, brushing twice daily and flossing daily all help prevent cavities. Incorporating less sugary food and beverages in your diet also helps, since bacteria in the mouth turn sugars into acids which attack and damage teeth.

Early stage cavities are usually treatable using sealants or fluoride treatments; pit and fissure cavities, however, are more difficult to address due to being more exposed.

In some instances, dentists will need to use a dental drill to extract infected material before filling the empty space with material such as composite resin or gold fillers. In more serious instances, however, extraction may be required altogether (dental extraction).

Starting off right can save you from needing more invasive and expensive treatments later. By limiting sugary food and drinks consumption, brushing and flossing regularly, and visiting your dentist at least every six months for cleanings and exams are the best ways to combat cavities. Home remedies such as oil pulling, licorice lollipops or chewing gum may help remineralize weak areas but will not eliminate existing cavities.


Tooth decay can be caused by various factors, but most can be avoided through proper oral hygiene and visits to your dentist regularly. Regular trips will allow your dentist to spot early warning signs like cavities forming in enamel, so treatment can begin before it worsens further and causes more sensitivity, pain or infection.

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in your mouth that produce acid and wear away at your enamel, gradually wearing away at its hard outer shell. Brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily are effective strategies for combatting tooth decay; adding a mouth rinse containing fluoride can strengthen teeth even further; studies show using these products regularly significantly lowers chances of cavities developing.

Sugar intake must be limited in order to prevent cavities. Too much sugar can increase bacteria levels in your mouth and erode its enamel – the best way to limit sugar is through diet – opting for healthier options like fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water and cutting back on soda or other sugary beverages.

Once a cavity develops in your enamel, it can spread to the dentin layer beneath and cause tooth sensitivity or white spots that indicate decayed teeth. If left untreated, this decay can eventually reach the pulp causing pain, swelling and an infection in your gums.

No matter the time or circumstance, it’s never too late to take care of your teeth, even if you already have cavities. Early detection can prevent further decay from developing into more extensive dental treatments; so plan a dental cleaning and examination as soon as possible and make sure you follow a healthy diet!

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