Cavity Tooth Decay: Causes and Treatments

Dental Health Advice

A cavity tooth decay is a permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of your tooth. There are three types of cavities; smooth surface – which appear on the smooth sides of your teeth, root cavities – which develop on the surface at the root of your teeth, and fissure cavities – which occur on the chewing surface of your teeth.

What Causes a Cavity Tooth Decay?

Dental cavities are not an uncommon issue; they’re particularly common in teenagers, older adults and children.

Caused by erosion and decay, a cavity tooth decay develops into small holes in the teeth. The two main contributors to tooth decay and dental cavities are poor dental hygiene and corrosive food and drinks.

Poor dental hygiene – failing to brush and floss your teeth twice daily results in a build-up of plaque and bacteria in the mouth. Poor dental health greatly increases your risks of tooth decay and dental cavities.

Corrosive Food and Drinks – sugary or acidic food and drinks can contribute to the corrosion of the enamel on your teeth. Constant consumption of these types of food and drinks may cause weakened teeth that are more susceptible to decay.

How Tooth Decay Works

Tooth decay occurs over time, this development slowly erodes your teeth, leaving your susceptible to further damage to your gums, teeth and jaw.

Plaque build-up coats your teeth as bacteria continues to form. Plaque that stays on your teeth and is not cleaned off can harden into tartar under or on your gum line. A build-up of tartar can be difficult to remove and acts as a shield for the bacteria underneath to destroy your teeth and gums.

As decay continues you will first notice some cavities – if left untreated the bacteria can wear away the enamel on your teeth and reach the next layer, known as dentin. Dentin is softer and less resistant – once decay reaches this stage you will notice sensitivity and pain.

Continued tooth decay eventually reaches the pulp (your inner tooth), this area contains nerves and blood vessels. At this point you will experience extreme pain and swollen gums.

Severe dental decay can damage your jawbone and requires emergency treatment. If you believe you may be experiencing a cavity tooth decay, please book an emergency dental appointment as soon as possible.

Symptoms of a Cavity Tooth Decay

Signs of a cavity tooth decay can vary from person to person. In the early stages you may not have any symptoms, but there are certain factors and signs you can look out for:

  • Toothaches and pains that occur with no apparent cause
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Pains when eating or drinking something hot, cold or sweet
  • Visible holes or staining on your teeth
  • Pain when biting or chewing

Treatments for Cavity Tooth Decay

Maintaining a healthy oral hygiene routine can help you to avoid cavities, decay or further damage to your teeth. However, you cannot reverse damage once it has been done.


Dental fillings are the preferred treatment to repair cavities. Our emergency care dentists will provide the appropriate filling based on your case.

Bridges and Crowns

Bridges and crowns protect your teeth from further damage and reduce the risk of infection spreading to healthy teeth and gums.


In severe circumstances a tooth extraction will be required is the damage or decay is beyond repair.

View our services and fees for more information on the emergency dental treatments available from our urgent care dentists in Southampton

Emergency Dental Appointments Near You

Book an emergency dentist appointment with our expert dentists. At The 247 Dentist we provide urgent care and out of hours appointments so you can receive the right treatments without having to disrupt your daily routine.

Contact us for more information and book your appointment today, or book a video dentist appointment to be seen by an emergency dentist anywhere in the UK.

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