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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Dentistry Tooth decay

Tooth decay

Cavities are decayed areas of your teeth that develop into tiny openings or holes. Cavities, also called tooth decay, are caused by a combination of factors, including not cleaning your teeth well; frequent snacking and sipping sugary drinks.

Cavities and tooth decay are one of the most common health problems around the world. They're especially common in children and young adults.


The signs and symptoms of cavities and tooth decay vary depending on the severity and location of the cavity. When a cavity or decay is just beginning, you may not have any symptoms at all.

But as decay gets worse, it may cause such symptoms as:

  • Toothache or tooth pain.
  • Tooth sensitivity.
  • Mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking something sweet, hot or cold.
  • Pain that lasts even after you stop eating or drinking.
  • Visible holes or pits in your teeth.
  • Pain when you bite down.
  • Pus around a tooth.

Risk factors

  • Certain foods and drinks: Fermentable carbohydrates like milk, honey, table sugars and most cooked starches.
  • Frequent snacking or sipping the sugary snacks.
  • Not brushing the teeth after eating and drinking.
  • Older individuals are the people who are more prone for decays.
  • Receding gums:  When gums pull away from the teeth, plaque can form on roots of teeth.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Weak or rough dental fillings.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Heart burn.

In addition to pain, contact your dentist if you develop any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Red, tender or swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Gums that are pulling away from your teeth, which may make your teeth seem longer
  • Pus around your teeth and gums when you press on the gums
  • A bad taste in your mouth
  • Unexplained bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Changes in the way your top and bottom teeth touch
  • Changes in the feel of your dentures
  • Sensitivity to sweet, hot or cold foods or beverages
  • You avoid brushing or cleaning certain teeth or areas because of pain.

Complications may include

  • Pain
  • Tooth abscess
  • Tooth loss
  • Broken teeth
  • Chewing problems
  • Serious infections.

Treatment and drugs