A cavity, also called tooth decay, is a hole that forms in a tooth. Cavities start small and gradually become bigger when left untreated. Since many cavities don’t cause pain in the beginning, some people don’t realize a problem exists. Regular dental appointments can detect tooth decay early.

The symptoms of a cavity depend on the severity of the decay. These may include:

  • tooth sensitivity
  • tooth pain
  • visible hole in the teeth
  • black or white staining on teeth

Widespread evidence suggests cavities and tooth decay are some of the most common health problems in the world. Anyone with teeth can develop one, including infants. To protect your oral health and the oral health of your family, you should learn the causes and risk factors of cavities.

Plaque causes tooth cavities. This is a sticky substance that binds to teeth. Everyone has bacteria in their mouth. After eating or drinking foods with sugar, bacteria in our mouth changes sugar into acid. Plaque is actually a combination of bacteria, saliva, acid, and food particles. It starts forming on teeth soon after eating or drinking anything sugary. This is why regular brushing is important.

Causes of tooth cavities

Plaque sticks to teeth, and the acid in plaque can slowly erode tooth enamel. Enamel is a hard, protective coating on teeth that protects against tooth decay. As tooth enamel weakens, the risk for decay increases.

Everyone is at risk for cavities, but some people have a higher risk. Risk factors include:

  • too many sugary or acidic foods and drinks
  • a poor oral hygiene routine (failing to brush or floss daily)
  • not getting enough fluoride
  • dry mouth
  • eating disorders (such as anorexia and bulimia)
  • acid reflux disease (stomach acid wears down tooth enamel)

Cavities develop more often in the back teet. These teeth have grooves and openings that can trap food particles. Also, these teeth are sometimes harder to reach when brushing and flossing.

Treatment Options for Tooth Cavities

Tell your doctor about uncomfortable symptoms like tooth sensitivity or tooth pain. Your dentist can identify tooth decay after an oral exam. However, some cavities aren’t visible from an oral exam. So, your dentist may use a dental X-ray to look for any decay.

There are several ways to treat a cavity. Treatment options depend on the severity of the decay.

  • Tooth fillings: A dentist uses a drill and removes decayed material from a tooth. Your dentist fills the tooth with a substance, such as silver, gold, or composite resin.
  • Crowns: For larger decays, a dentist may place a custom fit cap over your tooth to replace its natural crown. Decayed tooth material is removed prior to beginning this procedure.
  • Root canal: When tooth decay causes the death of nerves, dentists perform a root canal to save the tooth. They remove the nerve and blood vessel tissues, and any decayed areas of the tooth. Dentists also check for infections, and apply medication to the roots as needed. They fill the tooth, and sometimes they’ll place a crown on the tooth.

If your dentist detects a tooth cavity in its early stage, a fluoride treatment may restore your tooth enamel and prevent further decay.

Complications from Tooth Cavities

If left untreated, a tooth cavity can cause a variety of complications. Some people have ongoing tooth pain. Others develop a tooth abscess which can become infected and trigger life-threatening complications, like an infection that enters the bloodstream (sepsis).

An untreated cavity can also cause pus to develop around the infected tooth. There’s a greater risk for breaking or chipping a tooth, and some people have problems chewing their food. If you put off seeing a dentist, you may cause irreparable damage to your tooth. At this point, the only way to fix the cavity is for your dentist to remove the tooth and replace it with an implant or bridge.

Reduce Your Risk

Tooth cavities are a common dental problem, but you can reduce your risk. Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss once daily. Eat fewer sugary and acidic foods, and limit snacking between meals. Also, don’t forget to visit your dentist at least twice a year for regular teeth cleanings.

At ARCA we use various types of fillings to replace missing parts of tooth which have broken off from tooth decay, wear or accidentally. We use tooth-coloured filling materials such as composite and porcelain but we also use metal in situations where the bite may be very hard.

Book your next appointment with ARCA Dental today

(08) 9305 4254

5 star Though I live on a different continent, Dr. Kushal has been a family friend since the beginning of time. Being a dentist here in the US, and swapping dental stories when we all met in the UK, I have the utmost confidence in Dr. Kushal! If I lived there in Australia, I would definitely be a patient there!!!! Looking forward to your many years of success!!! Cheers!
Shailee Patel -

5 star Brilliant caring and professional. Kid friendly. My kids dont dread going to a dentist anymore
Paresh Gandhi -

5 star If you are looking for the Best you have just found it.
Bernadette Yeo -

No longer scared of the dentist. If your looking for a local dentist try Arca in Currambine. I love how they don't do anything drastic unnecessary and i felt very well looked after PLUS it didn't cost me an arm and a leg- so i now have no excuses not to have a check up regularly! Feeling relaxed now....excuses not to have a check up regularly! Feeling relaxed now....
Sarah - Jane Thomas -

Fantastic dentist who me & my family highly recommend (especially to people who are very nervous about visiting the dentist), Kushal & his team do an amazing job
Carole Webber -

A relaxed and kind dentist, and lovely assistant. They had a large TV where they played my favourite music on youtube, while they cleaned my teeth. A great experience!
Whitney Swopes -

Very professional
Kaylene Lynch -

Well had an unexpected visit to dentist today so looked up on Google who to go to . Went to ARCA that was local and my experience was amazing right from reception to dentist Ms. Bolton and even assistant . I get very anxious at the dentist due to many years of orthodontic work , they made me feel comfortable and understood my fears . Didn't cost an arm and a leg either . Very happy customer here and highly recommend them.
Tiffany Anderson Dowling -

Big shout out to ARCA Dental in Currambine. They managed to fit me in at the last minute today and I encountered a very friendly and professional service (and it didn't cost the earth!) Highly recommended!
Gary Langham -

Yesterday I attended an appointment at Arca Dental in Currambine and it was a great experience. The dentist was so lovely and friendly and he couldn't have done more to impress me. I would highly recommend giving this practice a go for your next dental appointment!!
Toni Bettini -

A unique and enlightening experience. Better than I have had elsewhere. Highly recommended. Will be back. Thank you.
Terry -

My family and I visited Arca dental for the first time today for a check up. I cannot recommend them enough. Massive thank you to everyone, the office is beautifully presented, all the staff were lovely, so friendly and helpful. We've been looking for a great dentist for 6 years, looks like we've found him. See you in 6 months!
Suzanne Hawkes -

My second visit. Absolutely lovely, looking forward to my next visit. Thanks x
Sandra Cook -

Great once again! Will be back!
Kirsty Christmas -