Skip navigation
   Other Topics: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ All Topics

Tooth Decay

Also called: Cavities, Dental caries 
 
 

You call it a cavity. Your dentist calls it tooth decay or dental caries. They're all names for a hole in your tooth. The cause of tooth decay is plaque, a sticky substance in your mouth made up mostly of germs. Tooth decay starts in the outer layer, called the enamel. Without a filling, the decay can get deep into the tooth and its nerves and cause a toothache or abscess.

To help prevent cavities

  • Brush your teeth every day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Clean between your teeth every day with floss or another type of between-the-teeth cleaner
  • Snack smart - limit sugary snacks
  • See your dentist or oral health professional regularly
 

 

 
 
Basics Learn More Multimedia & Cool Tools
 
Research Reference Shelf For You