Dental Health

How to prevent dental cavities: causes, symptoms, and more

This article, how to prevent dental cavities: causes, types, diagnosis, symptoms, and more information.

What is a dental cavities?

A dental cavity is an injury to the dental structure caused by the action of acids from bacterial plaque that has not been eliminated.

That is, damage progressively develops in the tooth enamel and, if left untreated, progresses to affect the dentin and nerve of the tooth.

The actual hazard of this hassle is that it is irreversible. Tooth enamel does not regenerate on its own, and if it influences the nerve, the enamel can be lost.

How are dental cavities formed?

Dental cavities do not occur overnight, it is a process that takes time. For them to be generated, this is what must happen:

Plaque formation:

Dental plaque is a fairly sticky film that covers the teeth. This generally appears when eating a lot of sugar and starches and not brushing your teeth properly. When these food remains are not cleaned, bacteria quickly begin to feed on them, thus forming plaque.

Plaque remains on the teeth, even hardening below the gum line or even on top of it, turning into tartar. When tartar forms, the removal of plaque is complicated, creating a protection for bacteria.

Plate attacks:

Subsequently, plaque acids begin to remove minerals from the outer enamel of the teeth, causing very small openings or holes in it. This is the first stage of cavities.

Once parts of the enamel have been worn away, both bacteria and acid begin to reach the next layer of the tooth, known as dentin. This is the softest and least acid-resistant layer of the enamel. It should be mentioned that this has tubes that communicate directly with the nerve of the tooth, causing sensitivity.

The destruction continues:

As dental cavities form, both bacteria and acid continue to move through the teeth. They even reach the interior material of the tooth (pulp), causing it to become inflamed and irritated due to bacteria. In addition, it causes pain due to compression of the nerve, which can extend to the root of the tooth or even the bone.

How to prevent dental cavities

Dental caries (from Latin, “putrefaction”), also known as caries or “cavity,” is a bacterial infection that causes demineralization and destruction of the hard tissues of the teeth (enamel, dentin, and cementum). It is the result of the production of acid by bacterial fermentation of food residues accumulated on the surface of the tooth. If the factors that cause tooth demineralization (i.e., carbohydrates, dry mouth, and plaque) exceed the factors that help remineralize the teeth (i.e., saliva and fluoride), tooth decay will occur. In terms of frequency, dental caries is the most common chronic disease in childhood. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry reports that 60% of children have tooth decay by the age of five.

Everything we how to prevent dental cavities:

1. Regular brushing

The best remedy to prevent cavities is to brush your teeth regularly, that is, at least twice a day. Use fluoride-based toothpaste to brush your teeth. For best results, brush your teeth after every meal or every time you eat something.

2. Use of mouthwash

 For best results, use a fluoride mouthwash after brushing. If you can’t brush your teeth after every meal, use mouthwash to clean your mouth of food particles. Using mouthwash also helps you fight cavities.

3. Regular dental check-ups

Get in the habit of visiting your dentist every six months, it is highly advisable to have your teeth cleaned and examined by a professional twice a year. This will help stop and prevent cavities and will also help you find any problems in your mouth at an early stage.

4. Use sealants

 Dental sealants are another of the best alternatives to prevent cavities from damaging your teeth. Take your dentist’s advice into account, sealing areas and crevices where he thinks the food particle may become embedded. This will help prevent dental problems and cavities.

5. Drink normal water

Avoid drinking bottled water regularly, drink tap water or regular water as much as possible, since in most cities the government adds fluoride to the public water supply. Drinking water will help you generate more saliva and will also help rinse bacteria from your mouth.

6. Eat healthy foods

 Just like healthy foods are good for other parts of the body, they are also good for your teeth. Eat healthy foods such as cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables, unsweetened drinks, sugar-free gum, etc. These types of healthy foods will help you fight cavities.

7. Dental consultation

If none of the above methods work to fight cavities, then the best solution is to consult your dentist and start taking some medications to protect against cavities and other damage to your teeth.

8. Drink wine

Sounds strange, right? Although it has not been clinically proven, both red and white wine are believed to help fight bacteria in the mouth. This will help stop tooth decay and decay.

9. Use a straw

Yes, you read that right, drinking cold drinks with the help of a straw will reduce the risk of cavities. Drinking cold drinks with the help of a straw, will not touch your tooth and will directly enter your stomach, thus causing less damage to your teeth. Although it is highly advisable to avoid this type of drink if you can’t resist, at least use a straw.

10. Antibacterial treatment

If you are vulnerable to cavities or have a tendency to generate bacteria, your dentist will recommend an antibacterial treatment, which will help reduce the level of bacteria in your mouth and fight cavities.

Types of dental cavities: classification

We can establish a classification of cavities according to the dental area or tooth they affect, as well as based on their level of severity. 

*Crown cavities: Coronal cavities appear in the area of ​​your teeth that you use for chewing. This type of tooth decay is the most common among the little ones in the house. It can be detected at a glance easily.

*Fissure cavities: Fissure cavities are those in which bacteria gain access to the innermost layers of the tooth through a small crack or fissure.

*Root caries: This lesion affects the root of the tooth. Periodontitis can cause gum recession and therefore leave the root unprotected for bacteria to attack. It is the most aggressive cavity and can cause the loss of your tooth. 

*Interdental or interproximal caries: These are cavities that appear in the interdental areas. To prevent its formation, it is essential that you correctly eliminate the bacterial plaque that accumulates between your teeth after each meal with dental floss or interproximal brushes.

*Recurrent cavities: This type of cavities refers to those that arise again in the area where there is already a previous dental filling. They may be new cavities or the previously treated lesion was not removed correctly and reproduced. They are also called secondary cavities. 

*Rampant caries: This caries is extremely aggressive and quickly affects the pulp and dental crown. It is a common type of cavity in babies due to the continuous and prolonged use of sugars.

*Enamel cavities: Cavities produced in the outer layer of the tooth, that is, the enamel, are the most common. It is easily identified since white spots appear on the surface of the tooth. *Dentin cavities: If cavities in the tooth enamel are not treated in time, they can advance towards the inner layer of the tooth, in this case, the dentin. Dentin cavities cause your tooth to appear yellowish and appear eroded or significantly worn.

What are the causes of dental cavities?

There are four factors necessary for the formation of cavities:

*A tooth surface (enamel or dentin)

*Bacteria causing cavities

*Fermentable carbohydrates (such as sucrose)

Even with these present, however, cavities may not occur. There is no fixed outcome and each person differs in susceptibility based on several factors, such as the shape of their teeth, oral hygiene habits, frequency of carbohydrate intake, and the buffering capacity of their saliva. Cavities can occur on any surface of a tooth.

The bacteria responsible for dental cavities are Streptococcus mutants, Streptococcus sobrinus, and Lactobacillus. These bacteria cause disease in the presence of fermentable carbohydrates such as sucrose, fructose, and glucose. Teeth are sensitive to destruction when the pH of their direct environment drops to 5.5 or less. This is known as low pH and means an acidic environment. Saliva raises pH (decreases acidity) and is therefore vital in remineralization. Because of this, conditions or factors that lead to decreased salivary flow can increase susceptibility to cavities. Most diseases (80%) occur in areas inaccessible to a toothbrush, such as between the teeth.

Some foods or drinks have a pH of 5.5 or less, which can cause demineralization in the absence of bacteria. This is known as erosion, rather than cavities because the acid is not of bacterial origin. Frequent regurgitation of stomach contents (reflux disease or bulimia) can also contribute to erosion by lowering the pH of the mouth.

Diagnosis of dental cavities

Caries is an infectious disease of microbial origin that affects the teeth.

Certain microorganisms present in dental plaque (especially streptococci of the mutant group, Lactobacillus, and Actinomyces) metabolize the sugars that remain in the mouth after eating food and produce acids that demineralize the enamel.

If the process is not stopped, this disease progresses, destroying the enamel, until it ends up affecting all the structures of the tooth, which dies if the decay reaches the nerve (pulp necrosis).

In addition, it can spread to structures close to the affected tooth, potentially causing infections and loss of adjacent teeth.

To diagnose cavities, dentists have different strategies and devices:

*Symptoms that the patient claims to have.

*Visual exploration of the tooth using magnifying glasses, mirrors, intraoral cameras, microscopes, etc.


*Cavity indicators.

*Laser diagnosis.

*Dental transillumination: allows generating a high-resolution digital image that is displayed on a monitor.

What are the symptoms of dental cavities?

Many people do not realize that they already have dental caries in their mouth until they visit their dentist or they already have medium or severe pain. In some cases the development of cavities is progressive and so slow that the person would not experience pain.

Below we present 10 signs that you may have this disease:

*Chalky or dull spots on teeth:

In a healthy tooth, the outermost enamel layer is translucent and transmits the color of the healthy dentin beneath it. The disintegration process begins with the removal of minerals, especially calcium from enamel resulting in chalky stains.

*Food gets stuck between or on teeth:

This is one of the most common complaints people have regarding tooth decay. “Holes” or cavities are created on the top surface of the teeth or the sides, increasing the distance between the teeth. This in turn causes food to get stuck between the teeth. When you try to floss between your teeth, you will notice that the floss frays easily.

*Inability to chew properly with certain teeth:

When dental caries advances to the pulp (inner part of the tooth with blood vessels and nerves) and the periodontal space (the tissue anchoring the tooth to the bone) pus forms, this causes a person to feel pain when biting on the affected tooth/teeth.

*Highly sensitive teeth

One of the first signs of tooth decay is sensitivity to cold foods. It is an indication that the tooth is still alive. There is a possibility of saving the tooth with a filling if treated in time. However, if you feel sensitivity and pain when consuming anything hot, it may be a sign of a tincture or dead tooth. This may justify root canal treatment.

*Gradual wear or fracture of teeth:

If you find your teeth gradually wearing down when biting or chewing on anything moderately hard, it may be a sign of tooth decay. The way the enamel (the outermost layer of the tooth) and dentin (the second layer of the tooth) are structured, when decay progresses to the dentin, it undermines the overlying enamel. This makes the enamel vulnerable to fractures.

*Darkening of teeth:

Often people visit dentists for ‘whitening treatment’ of a particular tooth or a few teeth. They don’t know that darkening or previously looking teeth is a sign of tooth decay. When caries progresses to the pulp, there is a large amount of dentin destruction. This, coupled with the fact that the dying or dead pulp produces certain pigments makes the teeth look dark.

*Bad breath:

Food stuck between your teeth if not removed properly can release putrid odors that give you bad breath.

*Blood on the toothbrush:

If the cavity is between two teeth, there is a chance that underlying gum tissue will grow into the area. While brushing, this tissue may be injured and bleed.

*The appearance of new “gaps” between the teeth:

If the cavities between the back teeth are large, over time, the teeth can shift leading to the appearance of gaps between the front teeth.

*Swelling in the gums:

When dental caries reaches the pulp of the tooth and then advances to the surrounding tissues, along with the bone, pus is generated. This can cause inflammation in the gums and often has to be treated immediately.

How long does it take for tooth decay to reach the nerve?

The time it takes for a cavity to reach the nerve can vary depending on several factors, such as the rate of progression of the cavity, the location of the cavity on the tooth, and individual oral health.

In general, a cavity can progress through the layers of the tooth (enamel, dentin) gradually. In the initial stages, cavities primarily affect the tooth enamel, which is the outermost and hardest layer of the tooth. If detected and treated early, it is possible to reverse the damage and prevent cavities from reaching the deeper layers.

However, if cavities are not treated in time, they can progress into the dentin, which is a softer, less resistant layer of the tooth. When cavities reach the dentin, the person may experience increased tooth sensitivity, pain when eating sweet, hot, or cold foods, and color changes in the affected tooth.

If the cavity continues to advance without treatment, it can reach the dental pulp, where the nerve and blood vessels are located. This can result in a tooth infection or inflammation of the nerve, often causing severe pain and requiring root canal treatment or even tooth extraction.

It is important to note that the time it takes for a cavity to reach the nerve can vary in each individual. By maintaining good oral hygiene, visiting the dentist regularly, and treating cavities in their early stages, you can prevent or minimize the chance of cavities reaching the nerve.

How can I treat cavities?

Depending on whether the caries have affected the tissues, the dentist will decide which treatment is most appropriate to alleviate the caries: filling, endodontics, reconstruction, or inlay.

As a general rule, the most frequently performed treatment is obturation. Better known as a filling, this treatment is performed when the cavity has entered the surface of the enamel and reaches the dentin.

Thanks to fillings, the injury caused by cavities is stopped and inflammation of the nerve is prevented.

If no treatment is done in time, cavities will destroy all the tooth tissue, inflaming the nerve. If this happens, we must resort to a root canal to avoid losing our teeth.

Treatments for dental cavities

As we told you, if you think you have a cavity in your teeth, you should go to your dental clinic in the center of Madrid so that our team of dentists can diagnose your problem and explain the best option to treat your problem. 

We will summarize the different treatments available to solve the presence of cavities in your teeth. 

Fluoride treatment

If the cavity is developing and is detected during its initial development, we can perform treatment with fluoride or a product that helps strengthen your tooth enamel to protect it. 

Dental filling

Dental filling or filling is the most frequently performed treatment for cavities.

It will be the treatment of choice in cases of not-too-deep cavities.

This treatment consists of eliminating dental caries from the surface of your tooth and reconstructing the area with composite. 

*Dental inlay

When we have lost a lot of surface of the tooth, it will be necessary to perform a dental inlay, this is a filling made to measure for the cavity that is generated once we have eliminated the dental caries, we can do it in the clinic or the laboratory, the dentist will inform you of what procedure is the best for your specific case.


This procedure belongs to the branch of pediatric dentistry. Pulpectomy is similar to endodontics, only in this case it eliminates the decay of a baby tooth and not a permanent one. This treatment seeks to preserve the temporary tooth by eliminating the pulp tissue affected by cavities.

*Endodontics or RCT

Endodontics is a procedure that removes the pulp from the tooth and seals all the root canals. It is an appropriate treatment for widespread cavities. This solution allows the tooth to be preserved by eliminating the nerve, blood vessels, and connective tissue.

*Dental crowns

Dental crowns or caps are an indicated solution for deep cavities that have weakened the patient’s tooth. The dentist replaces the original tooth with a custom-made cap emulating the natural crown.

*Tooth extraction

If the cavities are detected in a very advanced state due to a lack of control of your oral health or because they are located in areas of complex visualization such as between the teeth, the final solution that the dentist will determine will be the extraction or extraction of the tooth.

Consequences of not treating dental cavities

The normal thing is that if the person notices discomfort, they go to the dentist. But sometimes, whether due to fear or neglect, the treatment of cavities is delayed and the passage of time gives rise to increasing complications.

If cavities are not treated, they do not stop, and continue their destructive process to the inside of the tooth, which ends up affecting the nerves found inside. The final result is that the person ends up suffering a whole series of damages that can range from intense pain to breakage or even loss of the tooth, in some cases going through bacterial infections that can cause the appearance of abscesses and damage to structures. adjacent, with their corresponding complications.

In addition, it is worth mentioning that there is increasing evidence that infections in the mouth can be related to other pathologies that you may not have imagined: diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, lung diseases, digestive disorders, etc.

It is important to highlight that prevention plays a fundamental role in avoiding these problems. Good oral hygiene and going to the dentist if you have any symptoms go a long way to ensuring that the problem of cavities does not develop to these more advanced stages.

Summary of the dental cavities

Dental cavities are small cavities in the teeth caused by the breakdown of tooth enamel. This can occur when acids produced by bacteria in dental plaque build-up on the teeth, gradually wearing away the enamel. If left untreated, cavities can spread deeper into the tooth, causing pain and other oral health problems.

*Several factors can increase the risk of developing dental cavities. Some of these include Poor oral hygiene: If you don’t brush and floss regularly, bacteria in dental plaque can build up on your teeth, increasing the risk of cavities. A diet high in sugars: Sugary foods and drinks can provide a favorable environment for the growth of bacteria in the mouth, which can increase the risk of tooth decay. Lack of fluoride: Fluoride is important for dental health because it helps strengthen tooth enamel and prevent decay. If your drinking water is not fluoridated or if you do not use dental products that contain fluoride, you may be at higher risk for cavities.

*Tooth decay symptoms can vary depending on the severity and location of the cavity. Some possible symptoms include Tooth sensitivity: You may notice pain or sensitivity when eating or drinking cold, hot, or sweet foods. Tooth pain: If the cavity has progressed, you may feel pain or discomfort when biting or chewing. White or black spots on teeth: Cavities can appear as white or black spots on the teeth. Persistent bad breath: If a cavity has progressed, it can cause bad breath.

*Treatment of tooth decay depends on the severity of the cavity. If the cavity is mild, your dentist may simply clean and fill the cavity. If the cavity is more severe, you may need a root canal or even extraction of the affected tooth. In general, the best way to prevent tooth decay is to maintain good oral hygiene, avoid sugary foods and drinks, and visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. If you suspect you have a tooth cavity, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible for treatment.

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