Cavities: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Cavities, otherwise known as dental caries, are holes in teeth that form when acid erodes tooth enamel. People of all ages get cavities. 

A cavity develops from unaddressed tooth decay. Holes develop over time because of factors that contribute to poor oral health, such as not brushing the teeth or eating a diet high in sugar. Multiple factors can influence how quickly tooth decay progresses, including oral hygiene, diet, etc. 

Signs of cavities

Tooth decay on the outer enamel surface doesn’t usually cause pain or symptoms. You’re more likely to experience symptoms as decay progresses into the dentin and root. Signs of cavities include:

  • Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.
  • Bleeding gums or other signs of gum disease.
  • Facial swelling.
  • Toothache or mouth pain.
  • Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold foods or drinks.
  • Redness around or inside the mouth.


If decay is caught early, fluoride treatments can repair tooth enamel. However, once a hole forms in the tooth, you will need a dental filling.

If the cavity reaches the tooth root, you will need a root canal treatment. Sometimes even a root canal treatment can’t save the tooth. Depending on your oral condition, your dentist may recommend a tooth extraction.


Proper oral hygiene can eliminate plaque and acids that cause cavities. Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice and floss at least once daily. Consume less sugary, starchy foods and drinks. Have dental checkups at least twice a year.

You may have developed a cavity if you have sensitive teeth and can’t fix them even with proper oral hygiene. Call our Downtown Toronto dental office today to discuss your options and save your teeth: 416 366 0777