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Cavities (Tooth Decay): Symptoms and Causes

Cavities (Tooth Decay): Symptoms and Causes

Cavities (tooth decay) are a common dental problem that we often treat at our dental office in Los Angeles. They are caused by bacteria in our mouths producing acids that erode the tooth’s enamel and create small holes called cavities. If left untreated, cavities can lead to tooth pain, infection, and tooth loss. If you recognize the symptoms, you should get help as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Cavities

The severity of the decay can change the symptoms of cavities. In the early stages of decay, there may be no visible signs and no discomfort. However, as the decay progresses, the following symptoms begin to occur:

1. Tooth sensitivity: Patients may experience tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks. This is from the enamel eroding and exposing the tooth’s inner layers.

2. Pain: Patients may experience pain or discomfort when they bite down or chew on food as the pressure reaches the depths of the tooth.

3. Visible pits in the teeth: As the decay progresses, small visible holes or pits may develop on the surface of the teeth.

4. Discoloration: Teeth may appear darker or have visible stains as the tooth decay progresses.

5. Bad breath: The bacteria responsible for cavities can also cause bad breath.

Many patients only come in once the tooth sensitivity or pain is noticeable, but regular check-ups can help spot cavities early and save more of the tooth.

Causes of Cavities

A combination of factors, including poor oral hygiene, diet, and genetics, causes cavities. We can look at each in turn:

1. Poor Oral Hygiene: Not brushing and flossing teeth regularly can lead to plaque buildup, a sticky film of bacteria that erodes the enamel and causes cavities. Good oral hygiene is the most critical step in cavity prevention.

2. Diet: A diet high in sugary and acidic foods and drinks can contribute to the formation of cavities. When sugars and carbohydrates are left on the teeth, they are converted into acid by mouth bacteria, eroding the enamel.

3. Genetics: Some people may have a genetic predisposition to cavities. For example, if your parents have had a lot of cavities, you may be more susceptible to them yourself.

4. Dry Mouth: A lack of saliva in the mouth can contribute to the formation of cavities. Saliva helps to neutralize the acids produced by bacteria and remineralize the enamel.

Your dentist can discuss these causes with you and devise a plan to best prevent cavities in your circumstances.

Preventing Cavities

At Brightcraft Dental & Laser, we believe the best way to prevent cavities is to practice good oral hygiene. Brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and using mouthwash can help to remove plaque and bacteria from the mouth. A healthy diet is also helpful, especially one low in sugary and acidic foods and drinks.

In addition, regular dental checkups and cleanings at our Burbank dental offices are essential for maintaining good oral health. Dental check-ups help to detect cavities early and provide treatment to prevent further decay. In addition, dental cleanings remove stuck-on plaque and tartar that can’t easily be removed with brushing and flossing. Your dentist can also provide fluoride treatments and dental sealants to help protect teeth from cavities.


Cavities are a common dental problem that can cause pain, discomfort, and even tooth loss if left untreated. Practicing good oral hygiene, eating a healthy diet, and visiting the dentist regularly are the first lines of defense to prevent cavities. Suppose you experience any symptoms of cavities, such as tooth sensitivity, pain, or visible holes. In that case, scheduling a visit with your dentist as soon as possible is best to prevent further damage.

Remember, prevention is always better than treatment!

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