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Tooth cavities: causes, symptoms and treatments

Dental decay, or dental caries, is one of the major dental problems that patients of all ages face.

Dental decay refers to a condition in which cavities are formed in the hard surface of the teeth. That can happen when harmful bacteria in your mouth make acids that erode tooth enamel.

If cavities are not properly treated by a dentist, they can spread to the deeper layers of the teeth. They can lead to a severe pain, infection and even tooth loss.


What are the common causes of dental cavities?

The major cause of dental decay is one’s dietary sugar intake (refined carbohydrates).

After eating or drinking sugary foods, bacteria in plaque turn sugar into acid. This acid erodes, the hard tissues of the teeth (the enamel), causing it to lose minerals. When one is exposed to this type of diet frequently or over a prolonged period, the protracted loss of tooth mineral will lead to cavities forming.

In addition, without proper brushing with fluoride tooth paste and regular flossing, the enamel has no chance of remineralising and healing, so it is likely that the cavity could grow bigger and deeper over time.


Other risk factors include:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Lack of topical fluoride exposure
  • Dry mouth issues
  • Smoking
  • Eating disorders
  • Some medical problems – like diabetes
  • Genetics
  • Age


Symptoms of tooth cavities

Cavities are generally more likely to occur in the back teeth (molars and premolars). These teeth have grooves and openings that can collect food particles. Plus, these teeth are sometimes harder to reach when brushing and flossing which makes it harder to keep clean compared to the front teeth.

The symptoms of tooth cavity vary, depending on the severity of the decay. In early tooth decay, you may not have any symptoms. As the decay gets larger, it may cause signs/ symptoms such as:

  • Tooth sensitivity to sweets, hot, cold or biting.
  • Food getting ‘stuck’ in the affected ates (Food Packing)
  • Further parts of the affected tooth breaking off while eating
  • Black or white staining on your teeth


Treatment options for tooth cavities

Regular dental visits can identify cavities and other underlying oral issues before they cause symptoms and lead to more serious problems. The sooner you consult with your dentist, the more effective the treatment can be.

We, at Generations Dental, a dental clinic in Doncaster, believe that if a tooth cavity is properly treated early and before it starts causing pain, you will not likely need extensive treatment.

Depending on your level of tooth decay, your dentist will recommend the best treatment for you. Treatment options include:

  • Fluoride treatments

If the cavity has been detected in its early stage, a fluoride treatment may restore your tooth’s enamel and prevent further decay.

  • Fillings

If the cavity is large or deep, a filling can be used to fix the damage and restore the shape and function of the affected tooth.

  • Crowns

Crowns become necessary in the case of serious tooth decay (when too much of the original tooth is missing to hold a filling).

  • Root canal treatment

If the cavity reaches the pulp or nerves inside your tooth, you may need a root canal. Root canal can fix and save a damaged tooth instead of removing it.

  • Tooth extractions

If the cavity is left untreated, the tooth decay can become severe and can result in the loss of the tooth.


Maintain oral health and hygiene

Proper oral hygiene can help you prevent tooth decay. Here are a few simple steps that you can take every day to decrease the risk of developing tooth decay and cavities:

  • Drink fluoridated water.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste.
  • Floss daily.
  • Rinse your mouth daily with a fluoride-containing mouthwash.
  • Avoid foods and drinks that are high in sugar, carbohydrate and acid.
  • Lastly, but most importantly, visit your dentist regularly. It is important to regularly check with your dentist and never skip an appointment.


If you have pain or sensitivity in your teeth, make an appointment today with your dentist and have the issue properly checked and treated.



Call us Today to Make an Appointment
Book an appointment with our professional dentists in Doncaster today. Our dentists are friendly and 100% committed to delivering the best results for you.
03 9848 9422
Since 1986, Generations Dental has been Doncaster’s go-to provider of dental care and dentistry services.
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