Cavities are one of the most common dental health issues worldwide. Cavity treatment is not as simple as it appears. It can happen even if you take care of your teeth by brushing, flossing and getting regular dental checkups and cleanings. Cavities are known for causing tooth sensitivity or discomfort, so getting it checked out by a dental professional is advised to maintain your oral health. 

Continue reading to learn about the causes, characteristics, and conditions of cavities.

What exactly are cavities?

Cavities are permanently damaged portions of a tooth’s hard surface that develop into small gaps or holes. Cavities, also known as tooth decay or caries, are caused by several factors, including an excess of germs in the mouth, frequent eating, drinking sugary drinks, and failing to clean the teeth properly.

They are most prevalent among children, teens, and the elderly. Cavities, however, may affect anybody who has teeth, even newborns. Cavities become bigger and harm deeper layers of your teeth if they are not addressed. They can cause severe toothaches, infections, and tooth loss. Regular dental appointments and proper brushing and flossing routines are the best defenses against cavities.

Furthermore, an infant’s teeth deteriorate fast. Because their structure differs from adult teeth, they are less dense. When a cavity forms in a toddler or newborn, it can spread quickly across the tooth and onto neighboring teeth, and even farther into the body.

One of the most prevalent causes of cavities in newborns is what dentists call “baby bottle tooth rot,” or sending your child to bed with a bottle at night. Allowing your kid to carry a sippy cup of juice or milk with them everywhere they go might also trigger it.

Despite being labeled as “healthy,” some beverages include natural sugars. Liquids, by definition, cover all regions of the teeth. When your child sleeps with a bottle of milk or consumes juice many times a day, the acids in those sugars chip away at their teeth. The first place you’ll notice this is generally on the front teeth.

What to look for in the case of a cavity:

Small, superficial cavities may not initially generate any indications or symptoms. However, when the hollow grows larger, a person may suffer the following symptoms:

  • Early tooth decay is indicated by white patches on the surface of the teeth
  • Brown or black marks on the surface of the teeth, suggesting that tooth rot is occurring
  • Noticeable dents or holes in the dental enamel
  • Sensitivity or pain in the cavity area
  • Toothache or jaw discomfort
  • Discomfort when eating or drinking, especially hot, cold, or sweet items
  • Discomfort while biting or chewing food

During an oral examination, a dentist will search for symptoms of tooth decay and may prescribe dental X-rays to help look for cavities between teeth or behind fillings.


Anyone with teeth is susceptible to dental decay and cavities. The following variables may enhance your chances of getting cavities:

  • Improper or inconsistent brushing or flossing
  • A lack of frequent dental checkups and cleanings
  • Regularly consuming foods and beverages that are high in sugar
  • Consuming things that can stick to your teeth, such as candy or potato chips
  • Medication that creates a dry mouth 

Inefficient brushing techniques and consuming foods and beverages that are high in sugar are among the causes of cavities in children. Factors that increase the risk for adults include:

  • Having existing dental fillings that may leak or crack
  • Receding gums
  • Exposing tooth root to decay

Characteristics of a cavity: 

Cavities can spread into the deeper layers of the teeth if not treated. This can cause the following symptoms:

  • Rising pain and swelling around the afflicted region may indicate an infection or abscess in the tooth and gums
  • Tooth loss

An oral infection can sometimes travel to the bloodstream, also called epticemia. Septicemia can progress to sepsis, a potentially fatal illness without timely and vigorous antibiotic therapy. This illness is characterized by extensive inflammation throughout the body and the possibility of organ failure.


According to the ADA, a dentist should be seen if the following symptoms arise: 

Filing, root canals, and extractions:

The dentist will examine the tooth, and if the decay has reached the outer layer of the tooth, it is too late to treat it with fluoride and proper dental hygiene. Depending on how far the decay has progressed, a filling, root canal, or extraction may be performed.

If the decay is still slight, removing the rotten portion of the tooth and replacing it with a filling may be sufficient to stop the decay.

A root canal is a likely option if the rot has gone through the pulp and to the tooth’s root. For root canal treatment, a dental professional will remove all of the pulp, nerves, and blood vessels inside the tooth—including the roots. The tooth is subsequently filled with a filling and, in most cases, crowned. The entire tooth may need to be removed in severe situations to prevent infection from spreading to the surrounding gums, soft tissues, and jawbone.

When is it time to see a dentist?

A cavity may form without symptoms. Even with proper at-home care, it is essential to get frequent dental examinations and cleanings. For a toothache or mouth discomfort, make a dental appointment at your earliest convenience.

Request an appointment at Rincon Family Dentistry