Dental cavities are holes in teeth that form when acid in the mouth erodes tooth enamel. Untreated cavities can lead to toothaches, infection, and tooth extractions. People of all ages get cavities. Good dental care — including brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups — can prevent tooth decay. Cavities are also called dental caries.
A cavity is a hole in a tooth that develops from tooth decay. Cavities form when acids in the mouth wear down or erode, a tooth’s hard outer layer (enamel). Anyone can get a cavity. Proper brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings can prevent cavities (sometimes called dental caries).
Cavities are one of the most common chronic diseases that affect all ages.
tooth decay can happen at any age, although cavities are more common in children. They may not brush properly and consume more sugary foods and drinks.
Adults also get cavities. Sometimes, new decay develops around the edges of cavities treated in childhood. Adults also are more likely to have receding gums. This condition exposes the lower parts of teeth to cavity-causing plaque.
Tooth decay can affect all layers of a tooth. It can take three years for a cavity to form in the strong outer layer of tooth enamel. Decay progresses more quickly through the dentin (middle layer) to pulp (innermost layer). Pulp contains a tooth’s nerve endings and blood supply.
Twice-a-year dental checkups are the best way to catch cavities early when your dentist can save much of the tooth. Your dentist will use various instruments to examine your teeth. A tooth with a cavity will feel softer when your dentist probes it. You may also get dental X-rays. X-rays show cavities before the decay is visible.
Treatment depends on the severity of tooth decay. Cavity treatments include: