Cavity Prevention 101: What You Should Know

What Exactly Is A Cavity?

It is easier to avoid dental decay if we understand why it came about in the first place. Dentists want you to love and enjoy a healthy, happy and secure smile. Enjoying your favorite foods, speaking clearly and comfortably and, of course, smiling has everything to do with your oral health. Did you know there are six stages of tooth decay? Discover more about different types of cavities below:

Stage 1: White Spots
Stage 2: Enamel Decay
Stage 3: Dentin Decay
Stage 4: Involvement of the Pulp
Stage 5: Abscess Formation
Stage 6: Tooth Loss

Tooth decay is one of the most common causes of tooth pain. Tooth decay begins when the enamel begins to break down, creating pockets of decay on the surface of the teeth. Decay results from acidic damage to the tooth structure produced by bacteria that lives in plaque, the sticky film formed by the protein found in one’s saliva metabolizing sugary foods left in the mouth. Some forms of tooth decay can be treated by maintaining good oral care habits and regular trips to your dental professional. The following image can help you identify and understand tooth decay, so you can help prevent it. Learn more, compliments of Oral B

Dentist looking teeth on digital X-Ray computer monitor

How Long Do Cavities Take To Form?

Cavities don’t occur overnight. Since enamel is the hardest substance in our bodies, it takes months or even years for a cavity to form. Crooked teeth, not flossing enough or not using the proper flossing technique, genetics and diet are contributing factors. Learn more about cavity formation below:


Many different types of bacteria live in our mouths and build up on the teeth in a sticky film called dental plaque. When we eat and drink, these bacteria create acids, which can dissolve the protective layer beneath the retained plaque. The acid removes minerals from the enamel, which if left untreated can cause a cavity. Decay begins in the main portion of the tooth (the enamel) and as the enamel is broken down the decay can go deeper into the dentin and can eventually reach the nerve (pulp) of the tooth. Colgate has excellent information to educate you further.

Signs and Symptoms of Tooth Decay and Cavities 

As tooth decay progresses, cavity symptoms start to appear. If you notice any of these common cavity symptoms, see your dentist as soon as possible. The earlier symptoms are identified, the quicker and easier the cavity treatment will be. Tune in to your teeth, and be on the lookout for these cavity symptoms:

  • Pain: A toothache is one of the most common cavity symptoms.
  • Pressure: Both increased tooth sensitivity and pain when biting down can indicate a cavity.
  • Pits: Cavity symptoms may include a noticeable hole or pit in the affected tooth. Sometimes the holes are only visible on a dental x-ray.
  • Pus:  One of the more serious and obvious cavity symptoms is pus around a tooth.

Other common signs of a cavity that you will likely notice on your own include a toothache or sensitive teeth—particularly when eating sweet, hot or cold foods or drinks. These signs of a cavity are usually associated with advanced tooth decay and therefore require immediate attention from a dental professional. Discover more important dental tips, compliments of Crest

Dentist installs the seal on the tooth, woman in dental clinic. Female patient in dentistry cabinet, stomatology

Best Teeth Tools

If you haven’t upgraded your manual toothbrush to an electric model, now is the time! Make some easy dental resolutions that you can keep. Try an electric spin-brush, WaterPik or similar device to jazz up your oral care routine and see and feel the difference in your pearly whites. It is never too late to upgrade your oral health and we can help! Expanding dental floss is one of our favorite items as it helps to wick away biofilm from your gum line. Learn more about different flossing options below:

Each type of dental floss has pros and cons. Here are a few points to keep in mind about your flossing options:

  • Unwaxed floss is thin nylon floss made of about 35 strands twisted together. It fits into tight spaces if your teeth are close together, but it can be prone to shredding or breaking.
  • Waxed floss is a standard nylon floss with a light wax coating. It is less likely to break, but the wax coating may make it harder to use in tight spots.
  • Dental tape is broader and flatter than standard floss and comes in waxed or unwaxed versions. People with more space between their teeth often find dental tape more comfortable to use than standard floss.
  • Polytetrafluorethylene floss (PTFE)is the same material used in high-tech Gore-Tex fabric. The material slides between the teeth easily and is less likely to shred compared to standard floss.
  • Super flosses are made from yarn-like material that has stiffer sections on each end that can be used to clean around braces or dental bridges. Discover more, compliments of Oral B