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Dental Caries


Dental caries

are also called cavities. Cavities are caused by bacteria. The bacteria mix with carbohydrates from foods and create acids. The acids break down areas of enamel, which covers the outside of a tooth. This creates a small hole in the tooth called a cavity.

Tooth Anatomy

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have severe pain in your tooth or jaw.
  • You have swelling in your jaw or cheek.

Contact your dentist if:

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

Symptoms of dental caries:

You may not have any symptoms if your dental caries have just started to form. When dental caries reach deeper parts of your tooth, you may start to feel pain. The pain may get worse when you chew or eat hot or cold foods.

Treatment for dental caries

may include any of the following:

  • Fluoride treatments may be given during dental visits, or you may use products with fluoride at home. Fluoride can be found in the form of a mouth rinse or gel. You may buy fluoride with or without a dentist's order. Your dentist will tell you what kind of fluoride to buy and how to use it.
  • A filling may be placed in your tooth after the decayed portion is removed. The filling may help to protect your tooth from more decay.

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 every 6 months for dental cleanings and oral exams.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

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

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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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Dental Caries (Ambulatory Care)

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