URL of this page: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/toothdecay.html

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

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