A cavity is a tiny hole in a tooth caused by decay. Teeth are under daily attack from tiny bacteria produced by the things you eat and drink. Over time, this leads to tooth decay, and eventually the enamel that protects the teeth begins to break down. That's when cavities can form.
However, cavities can often be prevented, and they can be treated if they do develop.
Causes and Symptoms
Most people think of cavities as a problem among children, and it’s true that children do get a lot of cavities. But older adults are at risk, too, particularly as the gums start to break down and recede with age. The exposed root of the tooth is less protected than the upper portion of the tooth, making it more susceptible to plaque buildup and ultimately cavities.
Prevention and Treatment of Cavities
The best weapon against the development of cavities is to try to prevent them through sound dietary and dental habits. This includes eating healthy meals and avoiding sugary snacks and drinks. You should also brush your teeth well at least twice a day and use floss every day to keep plaque from building up in the spaces between your teeth and gums. In addition, see a dentist regularly as recommended for professional cleanings and checkups.
Dentists also have other tools, beyond cleanings and checkups, that can help prevent cavities. For many people, fluoride treatments and dental sealants can prevent the growth of cavities. If a cavity does occur, a dentist would drill a small hole at the spot of the cavity, remove the decay and then seal the hole with a filling to prevent it from spreading.
SOURCES: American Dental Association