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Cavities 101: Treatment, Cause, and Prevention

Home > Cavities 101: Treatment, Cause, and Prevention

Cavities 101: Treatment, Cause, and Prevention

cavities 101: treatment, causes, and prevention

What Are Cavities?

The term “cavity” is used to describe dental decay or dental caries because it describes the appearance of decay. A cavity is a hole or indentation, and decay in teeth eventually leads to erosion of the hard outer layer of the tooth

Bacteria and Decay

Bacteria live on and within the body at all times. For the most part, this is not problematic. Bacteria live in symbiosis with humans and contribute a great deal to our overall health and wellness. Unfortunately, when bacteria are given the right living conditions and plenty of food, they can begin to wear down the body and cause significant damage. 

The same is true of bacteria found in the oral cavity and cavities

Sugar, Alcohol, and Other Cavity Builders

Although bacteria is at the root of decay, bacteria cannot thrive, grow, and overpower teeth without the right conditions. Consumption of sugar and alcohol can contribute to the creation of an ideal cavity-building environment. High stress and unmanaged conditions like diabetes can also contribute to an imbalance that feeds and supports bacterial overgrowth. Bacteria like sugar, and an oral cavity filled with sugar and tacky foods can act as a buffet for bacterial organisms.

What Causes Cavities?

Now that you have an understanding of what cavities are and what environments they prefer, you can more thoroughly tackle the root causes of cavities. Dental plaque, a sticky film that builds up on teeth without the proper diet and brushing techniques, increases the risk of developing cavities substantially. 

What contributes to plaque? 


A diet rich in healthy, whole foods is the best diet to prevent plaque buildup and gum disease. Avoiding sugary foods and limiting foods that are known to become lodged in teeth, such as breads, candies, and pastries can also limit the likelihood of having cavities. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains are all considered ideal for overall health and wellness, which includes your oral health

Inadequate Oral Hygiene

Inadequate oral hygiene can cause bacteria in plaque to grow over and disrupt the health of your tooth surface. When food particles are left behind and you do not use fluoride toothpaste, attend regular dental visits, and brush your teeth twice and floss once per day, your likelihood of maintaining good oral health is significantly lower

Genetic Factors and Comorbid Conditions

Genetic factors can come into play in several important ways. For example, chronic diseases often have genetic roots, and genetic predisposition can also cause individuals to have weak or easily damaged enamel and other oral tissues. These individuals are more prone to tooth decay than the average population, as are those who live with chronic diseases like diabetes. 

Cavity Prevention

To prevent cavities, there are several vital steps you can take. These include changing your diet, using specialized tools like fluoride treatments, and managing your oral health care. Using each of these tools in conjunction with one another, you may be able to prevent cavities, even with other factors at play. 

Managing Diet

As discussed previously, diet is paramount. Sugary foods, alcohol, and processed foods all produce acids that can damage enamel. Fermented foods can also produce acid known to be problematic to the structure and integrity of teeth. Maintaining a healthy diet, avoiding sugar drinks, and rinsing with water after eating can all help maintain the integrity of your teeth

Brushing and Flossing

Brushing at least twice per day and flossing once is the gold standard for preventive oral health care and oral health maintenance. Brushing and flossing remove plaque from the teeth and from between the teeth, which prevents bacteria from multiplying and eventually overtaking your teeth and gums. 

Staying on Top of Oral Health Care

Regular dental visits and check-ups are essential to maintaining your oral health. Looking into sudden pain, discomfort, or damage is also vital to keep your oral health intact. Staying on top of your oral health very often means simply adhering to the base level recommendations put forth by dental professionals: brushing, flossing, attending to regular dental check-ups, and maintaining a healthy diet. 

Cavity Treatment

There are many different avenues available to treat cavities once they are established. While prevention is the preferred route for decay, existing decay can successfully be treated and eradicated. Effective cavity treatment is accomplished by visiting a dentist or endodontic professional who is able to drill into the tooth to remove decay and subsequently repair the tooth


Fillings are the standard route to take to repair dental decay. Fillings are completed by first drilling into the tooth to remove the decayed area, then filling the hole left behind with a composite material designed to bond to the tooth. Fillings can last for 10 or more years when they are cared for properly and offer a simple, effective way to eliminate decay from an infected tooth. 

Root Canals

Root canals are utilized in cases where decay is excessive and has reached the innermost cavities found in the tooth. The root canals of the tooth are cleaned out to remove inflamed and infected tissue, and the tooth is either filled or capped to prevent further damage and eliminate the likelihood of future decay. 


Extraction is considered the final line of defense against tooth decay. When decay has reached a level that renders the tooth unusable or unable to be saved, extraction may be necessary to prevent damage to the gums and underlying bone. Left untreated, tooth decay can lead to systemic infection and, in rare cases, even death

Teeth are typically extracted only as a last resort. Once extracted, many dentists recommend replacing those lost teeth with dental implants to reduce the likelihood of losing bone and functionality. 

The Best Dentist in Hermitage, TN

Dental Bliss Hermitage is proud to have an office that places an emphasis on superlative treatment and patient comfort. Our team recognizes the value of dental care and the common nature of dental anxiety. We provide cavity treatment in Hermitage, TN, with consideration and understanding via sedation dentistry and a luxurious dental office

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