Cavities (tooth decay) are a disease that can damage your tooth's structure.

A cavity damages your tooth's protective coating (enamel), causing a hole to develop in your tooth. If the cavity is left untreated, it can:

  • get bigger
  • cause pain
  • lead to the breakage or loss of a tooth

Every day a thin, sticky substance forms on your teeth and gums, which is called plaque. A cavity is caused when bacteria in the plaque react with sugars from the food or drink that you consume.

This results in an acid that attacks the surface of your tooth. It can be painful if the cavity is not stopped and it progresses inside the tooth's structure.

You can develop a cavity no matter your age or how many teeth you have (even just a single tooth).

Young children can develop Early Childhood Tooth Decay (ECTD), also known as Early Childhood Caries or Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. The good news is that ECTD is preventable. For more information on ECTD, go to oral health for children.

If you have receding gums, you are more likely to develop cavities around the roots of your teeth (root caries). Cavities can also form around the edges of your fillings.

Older adults should continue to brush and floss to prevent cavities from developing. Seniors should consult oral health for seniors for more information.

If you experience any pain in your teeth or your mouth, visit an oral health professional immediately. An oral health professional can help prevent a cavity from developing.

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