Dental cavities are holes in teeth caused by tooth decay.

Preventive dentistry will benefit anyone with some of their own teeth. People who don't have any teeth can also benefit, because conditions such as mouth cancer and denture stomatitis can be spotted during regular visits to the dental team and then treated. It is excellent for children and young people, but it is never too late to start.

What else can the dentist and hygienist do to help prevent tooth decay? Fluoride helps teeth resist decay. Your dental team will recommend the right level of fluoride for you to use in your toothpaste. Fluoride varnishes may be recommended for children to help prevent decay. If you are particularly at risk of decay your dental team may recommend or prescribe a high-strength fluoride toothpaste.

Teeth are in an environment of constant acid attack that strips the teeth of important minerals and breaks the teeth down. While this attack is constantly occurring, minerals are also be constantly replenished through mineral-rich saliva and fluoridated water and toothpaste. In addition to fluoride, calcium, and phosphate also help to remineralize enamel. When the demineralization starts and is confined to the outermost layer of enamel, it is called a microcavity, or incipient cavity. These types of cavities rarely need anything more than very conservative treatment. Only when the cavity breaks through the enamel layer and into the dentin does it really threaten the tooth. So when these microcavities are detected, it is best to try a remineralization protocol to see if they can be reversed instead of jumping to a filling right away.

The dentist’s goal is to achieve a healthy balance between prevention and restoration. It is a balance between being proactive and reactive. The dentist doesn’t want to be so proactive that he is recommending things that don’t need to be done — preventing problems that realistically never would have occurred.

Cavities in between teeth are commonly referred to as interproximal cavities or decay by your general dentist. Cavities form when there is a breakdown of the outer, calcified enamel of the tooth by bacteria commonly found in the human mouth. The bacteria stick to the teeth, embedded in a hard substance called dental plaque or calculus, which deposits on your teeth.