Tooth Cavities: Symptoms, Risks, Treatment and More


Medically reviewed by

Dr. Ankit Gupta

General Health

8 min read

Key Takeaways

  • Tooth decay is a common problem faced by many and this tends to boil down to poor oral hygiene
  • Tooth cavities symptoms are usually quite easy to spot and hence, you can get treated quickly
  • Baby or adult, everyone deserves to have their teeth checked regularly

Tooth decay is a common problem faced by many and this tends to boil down to poor oral hygiene. You are likely to into dental issues if you neglect oral care and aren’t mindful of the things you consume during the day. The presence of a tooth with cavities is the culmination of several factors that badly impact dental health, such as the consumption of sugary drinks. When there is tooth decay, the symptoms will shortly follow. Luckily, tooth cavities symptoms are usually quite easy to spot and hence, you can get treated quickly. Tooth cavities home remedies can, in fact, help during tooth decay early stages, but these should be seen as stop-gap solutions rather than permanent fixes.

Fixing tooth decay is important to maintaining optimal oral health and failing to do so can lead to serious complications. You could expose yourself to problems such as a tooth abscess, tooth loss, and even life-threatening conditions. To help you realise the gravity of tooth decay, here is a breakdown of the well-known tooth decay reasons, alongside a note on the common symptoms and tooth decay treatments.

What Is Tooth With Cavities?

A tooth with cavities will have undergone permanent damage that gives rise to tiny openings. These holes gradually become larger when left untreated. As these cavities form, the tooth weakens and becomes susceptible to all types of infections, which are accompanied by a range of symptoms. Tooth decay and cavities are among the most common health problems faced by people around the world.

Common Tooth Decay Causes

The primary cause of tooth decay is the formation of dental plaque. This is a sticky film that forms on the tooth over time. Typically, it forms due to a combination of a diet filled with sugars and starches and poor oral hygiene. Once the plaque has coated the tooth, it begins to attack the enamel with acid. As such, tiny openings are formed, and the bacteria are now able to access a deeper layer of the tooth known as dentin.

Once the cavities are formed, the decay begins to worsen, causing damage to the dentin and pulp. This is how tooth decay takes place and, in addition to the plaque, there are other factors that put you at risk of developing a cavity. They are as follows:

  • Heartburn
  • Frequent snacking
  • Dry mouth
  • Bedtime-feeding
  • Age
  • Eating disorders
  • Improper brushing technique
  • Poor oral hygiene

The location of the tooth is another factor, which is one of the reasons for wisdom tooth cavities. Generally, decay occurs in the back teeth or those with a lot of grooves and pits. These are much harder to clean and are at a higher risk of decay.

Different Types Of Tooth Decay

A tooth can develop dental rot on any layer. Three years pass before a cavity forms in the tough outer layer of tooth enamel. The pulp (innermost layer) decays more quickly through the dentin (middle layer). A tooth's pulp contains the blood vessels and nerve endings. The following types of tooth decay may occur:

Smooth surface: The tooth enamel is dissolved by this slowly expanding hollow. Through correct brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings, you may stop it from happening and can occasionally turn it around. This type of dental decay between the teeth frequently affects people in their 20s.

Pit and fissure decay: Cavities develop on the chewing surface of the tooth's upper portion. The front side of the rear teeth is susceptible to decay as well. Pit and fissure degradation frequently starts in adolescence and progresses quickly.

Root decay: Root decay is more common in older people with receding gums. The tooth root becomes more susceptible to acid and plaque as the gums recede. Root deterioration is challenging to identify and treat.

Decay starts at the level of the enamel and then works its way into the innermost parts of the tooth. However, tooth decay can also be classified as per the location of the decay. Accordingly, here are the major types of tooth decay:

  1. Root Cavities
  2. Pit and Fissure Cavities
  3. Smooth-Surface Cavities

Different Tooth Decay Stages

There are 5 main stages in which tooth decay progresses in a tooth.

Stage 1: Initial demineralization

Stage 2: Enamel decay

Stage 3: Dentin decay

Stage 4: Pulp damage

Stage 5: Abscess

In stage 5, the decay has advanced to the pulp and this is where the infection takes its hold. The pain experienced at this stage may be felt through the entire jaw and the abscess can cause a swelling too. This infection can spread to the other parts of the head and neck, so it best to get it treated beforehand.

What Are The Common Tooth Decay Symptoms?

Tooth cavities symptoms are quite easy to identify and start with mild discomfort in the mouth. This gets worse and here are the symptoms you should expect to experience.

  • Pain when you bite
  • Random bouts of toothache, sometimes without reason
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Sharp pain when eating hot, cold or overly sweet food
  • Holes in the teeth
  • Surface staining on the teeth

What To Expect During Tooth Cavities Treatment?

Tooth fillings

To remove decaying material from a tooth, a dentist uses a drill. Next, your dentist will fill your tooth with composite resin, silver, or gold.


Your dentist could replace your tooth's natural crown with a custom-fit cap if the deterioration is more severe. Your dentist will remove any decayed tooth material before starting this procedure.

Root canal

If dental decay has killed the nerves in your tooth, your dentist will perform a root canal to preserve it. Along with the nerve and blood vascular tissues, they remove the decayed portions of your tooth. Your dentist will next use medication to treat the roots after checking for any infections. After the tooth has been filled, a crown may be placed on it.

Dental Sealants

When applied to the chewing surfaces of the rear teeth (molars), dental sealants are thin coverings that can stop cavities (tooth decay) for a very long time. Sealants defend chewing surfaces from cavities by encasing them in a barrier that keeps food and bacteria away. Your dentist may also use this option in your treatment.

Depending on the severity, dental treatments for a tooth cavity are as follows.

Risk Facts to Keep an Eye Out For

These factors increase your risk of developing cavities:

  • Dry mouth is a side effect of diseases like Sjogren's syndrome or drugs like antidepressants
  • Eating or drinking starchy, sugary snacks between meals raises the risk
  • Cavity history in the family
  • Radiation treatment has been used previously to treat head and neck cancer
  • Regressing gums 

Tooth Decay Natural Remedies

Home remedies shouldn’t be seen as a permanent fix for tooth decay and should be employed only to manage the pain or prevent further decay. Common tooth decay natural remedies are as follows:

  • Consume foods rich in vitamin D
  • Avoid sugary foods as much as possible
  • Consider oil pulling
  • Use liquorice root extract
  • Buy a fluoride toothpaste
  • Chew sugar-free gum

Tooth Cavities Complications

Untreated dental cavities can lead to a variety of problems. These consist of the following:

  • Persistent toothache
  • When infected, a tooth abscess can result in sepsis or other potentially fatal consequences, such as an infection that enters the bloodstream
  • An increased risk of fracturing or chipping a tooth when pus forms around the diseased tooth
  • Difficulty in chewing food

Delaying dental care increases your chance of inflicting permanent harm to your teeth. So, visit a dentist to cure the cavity. At this point, you might need a replacement of the tooth.

How Can Your Dentist Diagnose You Have Cavities?

The best approach to catch cavities early, while your dentist can still salvage a lot of the tooth, is:

  • Get dental exminations at least twice in a year's time
  • For teeth inspection, dentists use a variety of tools
  • Your dentist might look for softness when probing a tooth for a cavity 
  • Dental X-rays. Before the degradation becomes apparent, X-rays reveal cavities.

Some Tooth Decay Prevention Tips

Although tooth decay is a frequent dental issue, you may lower your risk by following these steps:

  • Flossing at least once a day
  • Reduce your intake of sugary and acidic foods, including soda, candy, juice, and refined carbohydrates
  • Limit in-between meal snacks
  • Think about having dental sealants applied to your teeth

Eat these foods to prevent tooth decay:

  • Fruits and vegetables high in fibre
  • Foods high in calcium
  • Sugarless chewing gum with xylitol
  • Black or green tea water without sugar
  • Fluoride water

Moreover, consider visiting the dentist for regular tooth cleanings at least twice a year to keep tooth problems at bay.

Take a look at the ways in which you can prevent tooth decay:

  • Maintain regular dental appointments
  • Try fluoride treatments
  • Brush your teeth after large meals
  • Rinse your mouth regularly
  • Don’t snack or sip on sugary foods and drinks
  • Floss regularly
  • Eat calcium-rich foods
  • Don’t eat around bedtime
  • Use a toothpaste with fluoride

When you notice them, promptly dealing with tooth cavities symptoms should be your priority. If you don’t get care immediately, you may have to remove the tooth entirely and tooth extraction may land up being costlier to treat, apart from being inconvenient. This is why you shouldn’t delay getting treatment for tooth decay. Baby or adult, everyone deserves to have their teeth checked regularly, even as it is helpful to have tooth decay home remedies at your disposal for quick relief. To ensure that you get professional help for tooth decay when you need it, simply use  Bajaj Finserv Health.

Your search for top orthodontists and dentists ends with Bajaj Finser Health. You can view a list of top dentists and orthodontists near you in your city. You can also book an online appointment or opt for an in-clinic appointment at your convenience. In doing so, you get access to exciting discounts and deals from empanelled healthcare partners. These benefits and others like it are just one step away.

Published on 2 Mar 2021Last updated on 17 Mar 2023

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.


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