Can a cavity go away?

This blogpost will answer the question Can a cavity go away? And will include topics like:

How does a cavity develop?. Symptoms. Causes. Risk factors. Complications

Can you reverse a cavity?

Preventing a Cavity From Getting Worse. What Happens if You Don’t Treat a Cavity?How can you prevent a cavity from forming in the first place?

Can a cavity go away?

No, a cavity does not go away. According to the American Dental Association enamel contains no living cells, and so it cannot repair decay itself. Many parts of the body are capable of healing on their own but it’s not the same with tooth enamel. Once  the bacteria and decay have gotten through the enamel, the damage is done. After this, no matter how much you try to brush or clean the teeth, it cannot be reversed and can only be treated by a dentist. Also one the cavity has gone through the enamel, decay can further reach into the tooth invading the dentin and even the pulp,in later stages. 

How does a cavity develop?

A cavity is developed due to the acid produced by oral bacteria. 

As more and more acid is produced by the bacteria, the enamel starts demineralizing which is the first stage of tooth decay. 

Stages of cavity development are:


Demineralization is the first stage of tooth decay. When the enamel is exposed to acid repeatedly the minerals present in it starts demineralizing. These appear as white spots on the tooth surface.

Enamel decay

After demineralization, the enamel starts to decay and start forming holes or cavities. These appear as brown or black discoloration.this is the second stage of cavity development. 

Dentin decay

Once the cavity has formed in the enamel, the decay progresses deeper into the tooth. This is the third stage where the decay has reached the dentin,which is the soft tissue layer below the enamel. At this stage of decay, the tooth starts hurting..

Pulp decay

As the decay keeps on going on deeper into the tooth, it reaches the pulp after invading the dentin. Pulp is the innermost part of the tooth consisting of the nerve ending and blood vessels. This stage is the most painful. At this stage the gums surrounding the affected tooth may  also become inflamed and can even bleed at times.  


Even when the decay has reached the pulp the bacteria does not stop growing and multiplying. The bacteria can reach below the pulp and form a pocket of pus,called abscess. An abscess is extremely painful and at this stage a normal filling will not help and you will have to unger a root canal treatment.

No one can say how fast or slow the decay may progress. It is affected by a number of factors in which your oral hygiene plays the most essential role.


Signs and symptoms of cavities can vary, depending on the extent and location. In the initial stages, you may not even experience any symptoms. 

Symptoms begin to show when the decay progresses in the enamel.

You may experience one or more of these symptoms:


Tooth sensitivity when eating or drinking something sweet, hot or cold

Visible holes or cavities on your teeth

Brown, black or white discoloration on the surface of a tooth

Pain while biting

Inflamed gums

Swelling on the face

Unpleasant taste

Mild fever

Loss of appetite


Cavities are caused due to tooth decay. 

Tooth decay can occur due to various reasons:

Poor oral hygiene

Regular intake of sugary foods.

Decreased salivary secretion ( may happen due to certain health condition or medications)

Not flossing regularly

Wrong brushing technique


Not getting regular dental check-ups

Eating food high in acid frequently and not rinsing your mouth afterwards.

Receding gums

Risk factors

Every individual is at risk of developing cavities, but there some factors that may increase the risk such as: 

Tooth location

Cavities mostly occur in the tooth located at the back. These teeth are bigger in size and have more grooves and pits compared to the teeth in the front. Therefore food gets easily accumulated or stuck in these grooves, also they are more difficult to clean due to low accessibility. 

Certain foods and drinks

Foods that can get stuck in the teeth for a longer time like cookies, chips, breads, caramel, chocolate promote cavities. Also drinks that are acidic and/or sugary like sodas, soft drinks, milk etc promote tooth decay. Certain fruits that are acidic like oranges, limes can cause tooth decay if you do not rinse your mouth immediately after eating them. 

Frequent snacking or sipping

When you snack or munch frequently, the bacteria present in your mouth repeatedly produce acid and attack the enamel eventually causing demineralization and cavities. Hence frequency snacking and even drinking of sugary/acidic drinks should be avoided.


Bedtime infant feeding

When babies are given bedtime bottles filled with milk, formula, juice or other sugar-containing liquids, these beverages remain on their teeth for hours while they sleep, feeding decay-causing bacteria. This damage is often called baby bottle tooth decay. 

Inadequate brushing

If you don’t clean your teeth or at least rinse your mouth as soon as you finish eating and drinking, plaque will begin to form which is the first stage of decay.

Not getting enough fluoride

Fluoride is  a natural mineral, the enamel consists of fluoride and has a potential to repair itself because of it. Fluoride helps prevent cavities and can even reverse the earliest stages of tooth damage. You get fluoride from the water you drink and your toothpaste. 

Lack of fluoride leads to it’s deficiency in the enamel, making it prone to cavities. 

Dry mouth

Reduced saliva leads to dry mouth. Saliva plays a major role in washing away decay-causing bacterias, hence reduced saliva in some individuals can make them more susceptible to decay. Dry mouth can happen due to certain medical conditions like Sjogren’s syndrome, diabetes etc. it can also happen due to intake of come medicines like antihistamines, antipsychotic, antidepressants etc. Sometimes therapies like radiotherapy or chemotherapy can also lead to dry mouth.

Worn fillings or dental devices

Faulty or broken fillings can easily become a site of plaque accumulation leading to tooth decay and cavities.



An untreated cavity can lead to a lot of complications both in the mouth and in the body. 

Complications of the mouth :


Tooth abscess

Swelling around a tooth

Pus around the tooth

Damage or broken teeth

Chewing problems

Complications in the body:


Cardiovascular problems

Pregnancy complications

Kidney disorders

Dementia etc.

Can you reverse a cavity?

Reversing a cavity is almost impossible, but if you are regular with your dental check-ups and spot the cavity at the stage of demineralization, you may have a chance to stop it from progressing. At this stage, decay appears as white spots which are difficult to catch.

At this stage good hygiene can put a halt to the progressing decay. Dentist can even ask you to try a fluoride application treatment. If you are lucky enough, you might be bale to restore the lost minerals.

But unfortunately, cavities can’t always be prevented, even with improved oral hygiene. 

Treatment options for a cavity


For cavities present on the surface of the tooth a simple filling is enough. 

The decayed part is removed and a space is made that is filled by a dental filling material,thereby restoring the natural shape and function of the tooth. Different types of filling materials are available, all having different properties. Your dentist would discuss these different materials before the filing procedure.

Root canals

 When the decay has reached the pulp,  a root canal treatment is the only option. In this the decay is removed from the root canals and filled with an appropriate filling material. You may need to get a crown to cover up the root canal treated tooth. 


A tooth extraction is done when there is no option left and the tooth cannot be saved with any treatment.

Preventing a Cavity From Getting Worse

Brush Carefully

One should brush at least twice a day. If you already have a cavity or are susceptible to developing one, it becomes even more important to develop a regular brushing habit. And always try to focus on the teeth present at the back because that is where the food accumulates majorly.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated keeps your mouth moist and lubricated thereby decreasing the amount of bacteria in the mouth. Water also washes away food particles that may be stuck on teeth or other oral surfaces.

Use Fluoride

Fluoride prevents bacteria from growing and remineralizes the enamel and makes the teeth  strong thereby helping prevent cavities. If you’re able to identify a cavity early on and a fluoride treatment, it can help slow the tooth decay.

Rinse With Salt Water

salt water can aid in the destruction of bacteria that cause cavities, it has antibacterial characteristics which can  help halt the growth of a cavity.

Avoid Refined Sugars

Sugar is the major culprit when it comes to cavities. The bacteria in the mouth produce acid as soon as it comes in contact with sugar.The longer sugar stays in the mouth,the longer bacteria keep on producing acid. If you already have a cavity, it is best to avoid sugar and even if you do eat it in any form make sure to rinse your mouth with water. 

Chew Xylitol Gum

Xylitol is a natural alcohol that destroys bacteria and fights off infections. Chewing gum containing xylitol after eating can help prevent cavities

What Happens if You Don’t Treat a Cavity?

Untreated cavity can lead to some serious issues, such as

A Bad Cavity Can Bring Further Decay

Ignoring a cavity will only give it more time to grow and cause more decay. And as the cavity grows in size it starts spreading to adjacent teeth. This process will go on and multiple teeth become at risk of developing the decay and also there are more chances to develop conditions like gingivitis and periodontitis. In such situations you may even need to undergo multiple extractions..

How Serious Cavities Impact Your Nerves

If cavities are left untreated they eventually reach the pulp,where all the nerve endings of the tooth are present. This can result in excruciating  pain and you may also experience extreme tooth sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks and even air. When this stage of tooth decay is reached, you will have to undergo a root canal treatment and sometimes even an extraction.

Infection from a Bad Cavity

The bacteria from the decay can cause infection in the mouth and jaw. This can lead to pain, facial swelling, restricted mouth opening, loss of appetite and other health concerns. 

Illness and Death

It is always a possibility for the infection from an untreated cavity to enter the body. You can develop different organ infections if this happens, like kidney infections, stomach infections and sometimes even life-threatening issues like cardiovascular problems.

A cavity should not be left untreated in any case, and that’s why you need to keep a check on your oral habits and your oral health.

How can you prevent a cavity from forming in the first place?

Here are some of the most important steps you can take to practice proper oral hygiene:

Brushing your teeth twice at least twice per day with a fluoridated toothpaste is the most important thing. This will help prevent the accumulation of food particles and development of plaque and will also help remineralization of the enamel.

Floss your teeth once a day to get rid of the food stuck between the teeth. Flossing should be done at night before bed this way you can prevent bacteria from feeding overnight.

Increase your exposure to fluoride by doing activities such as drinking fluoridated water and using fluoride-containing products. 

Reduce your exposure to sugary or starchy foods. These types of foods contribute the most to tooth decay.

Visit the dentist at least once every 6 months for check-ups.

Frequently asked questions (FAQS)

Can cavities go away on their own?

No, cavities don’t go away on their own. They will continue to grow if left untreated. This is why it is necessary to treat it as soon as it is detected.

Can cavity fillings fall out?

No, cavity fillings don’t fall out easily. However it is important that fillings cannot last forever and at some point they may break or fall out. In such cases a re-filling can be done which is a very short and easy procedure.

Does brushing a cavity make it worse?

No, brushing a cavity won’t make it worse. In fact brushing is the way to prevent cavities from developing.

Can a cavity go away over time?

No, cavities do not go away over time. Ignoring them will only give them time to grow and spread the decay.

How do you heal a cavity in 2 days?

Yes, you can heal your cavity in 2 days by visiting a dentist and getting it filled. Although it takes about 10-15 mins to get a filling procedure done.

Other FAQs about Teeth Cavities that you may be interested in.

Can a cavity form in 2 months?

Can a black cavity be saved?

Are cavity fillings covered by insurance?

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