Cavities: Prevention, Symptoms, Treatment

Cavities: Prevention, Symptoms, Treatment

By: Hillside Dental
Posted on: June 20, 2023

Cavities, also called dental caries, are an oral health issue that impacts people of all ages. They occur when the hard tissues of the teeth are damaged by acid-producing bacteria, leading to the formation of holes or cavities. Cavities can range in size and severity and can cause further complications if left untreated.


Causes of Cavities


The primary cause of cavities is the presence of some types of bacteria in the mouth. The bacteria produce acids when they come into contact with sugars and carbohydrates from food particles. The acids gradually erode the tooth enamel over time.


Risk Factors for Cavities


Several factors can heighten the risk of developing cavities. Poor oral hygiene practices allow bacteria and plaque to accumulate on the teeth. Frequent consumption of sugary and acidic foods and beverages causes bacteria to thrive. Factors such as dry mouth and genetic predisposition can contribute to the development of cavities.




Maintaining a consistent oral hygiene routine is crucial in preventing cavities. Brushing at least twice daily with fluoride toothpaste helps remove plaque, bacteria, and food particles from the teeth. Flossing daily helps clean the spaces between the teeth that a toothbrush cannot reach. It prevents the accumulation of plaque and bacteria.


A well-balanced diet plays a significant role in cavity prevention. Limiting the consumption of sugary, acidic foods and beverages helps by reducing the amount of sugar available for bacteria to produce harmful acids.

Fluoride treatment can also help prevent cavities. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and makes it more resistant to acid attacks. Drinking fluoridated water or using fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash are both effective methods. Dentists may also recommend professional fluoride treatments, especially for individuals at a higher risk of developing cavities.

Dental sealants are another way to protect against cavities. They are thin, protective coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. These teeth have grooves and pits that can trap food particles and bacteria, making them more prone to cavities. Dental sealants are a physical barrier, preventing plaque buildup and acid attacks, and thus reducing the chances of cavities in these vulnerable areas.





  • Tooth sensitivity - You may experience discomfort or pain when consuming hot, cold, sweet, or acidic substances. The sensitivity occurs because the decay reaches the underlying dentin-containing nerve endings

  • Toothache - Cavities can cause persistent toothaches as they progress. The throbbing or sharp sensation can worsen over time. The severity of the pain can vary with the extent of the cavity and the proximity of the decay to the tooth’s nerve

  • Visible holes or pits - Cavities can create visible signs on the surface of the affected teeth as they develop and progress. They may appear as holes, pits, or dark spots. Cavities are usually on the biting surfaces of molars and premolars and in the areas between teeth



Dental fillings are the most common treatment for cavities. The decayed portion of the tooth is removed and the resulting hole is filled with materials like amalgam, composite resin, or porcelain. Dental fillings restore the tooth’s function and appearance.


Dental crowns may be necessary for larger cavities with a weakened tooth structure. They are custom-made caps that cover the entire tooth, providing strength and protection.

A root canal may be needed if the cavity reaches the tooth’s pulp, causing infection or abscess. Your dentist eliminates the infected tissue and cleans, fills, and seals the root canal to save the tooth.

Lastly, a tooth extraction may be necessary where the cavity is extensive, causing damage to the tooth structure. Your dentist may also recommend it if other treatment options are not feasible. It involves the removal of the affected tooth from its socket.


For more about cavities and treatment options, contact Hillside Dental at our office in Las Vegas, Nevada. Call (702) 666-8584 for new patients or (702) 895-7799 for existing patients to book an appointment today.

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