Skip to Content

Dental Caries


Dental caries are also called cavities. Cavities are caused by bacteria. When the bacteria in tooth plaque (sticky film) mix with certain types of carbohydrate, this creates acid. The acid breaks down areas of enamel, which covers the outside of a tooth. This creates a small hole in the tooth called a cavity.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your face, jaw, cheek, eye, or neck begin to swell.

Contact your dentist if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your tooth pain gets worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Follow up with your dentist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Prevent dental caries:

  • Brush your teeth at least 2 times a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Use dental floss to clean between your teeth at least once a day.
  • Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after meals and snacks.
  • Chew sugarless gum after meals and snacks.
  • See your dentist regularly for dental cleanings and oral exams.

© 2018 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.