Do cavities get worse if untreated?

This blog post will address the topic, “do cavities get worse if untreated” and cover topics like if we can stop a cavity from getting worse, what a dental cavity is and how can we stop it from getting worse. 

Do Cavities Get Worse If Untreated?

Yes, cavities may get worse if left ignored and untreated. Cavity can be reversed naturally in its earliest stage but once it reaches dentin, there can’t be any reversal and filling is the only treatment. 

However, if the cavity is left untreated and no filling is done, it may lead to tooth infection which may further spread to the adjoining jaw bone causing osteomyelitis.

Ascending tooth infections may enter the brain through sinuses or blood and lead to abscess formation in the brain.

Can You Stop A Cavity From Getting Worse?

Yes, you can stop a cavity from getting worse by applying necessary interventions in its earliest stage.

The dental cavity forms in five stages. First stage is the formation of white spots on the tooth surface and preventive actions like toothbrushing with a fluoride toothpaste, daily flossing and mouthwash can reverse the cavity formation in this stage.

However, if ignored, the cavity development may enter into its later stages where reversal is impossible to achieve and the root canal is the only favourable treatment option.

What Is A Dental Cavity And How Can You Stop It From Getting Worse?

Dental Cavity or tooth cavity, is a hole that develops on the surface of the tooth due to loss of mineral content from the enamel, resulting from the repeated acid attack by the plaque bacteria.

If the cavity is just in its initial stage where the white spot is visible on the tooth, it is the time to take preventive actions such as toothbrushing, mouth washing and flossing daily.

At stage one, when the white spot has just appeared, the cavity can be reversed with proper oral hygiene and eating some mineral and vitamin rich foods.


Toothbrushing To Prevent Cavities From Getting Worse

It is recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) to  brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time with a toothpaste containing fluoride. 

It is recommended to brush your teeth twice a day, once in the morning, just after waking up and once at night, just before going to bed.

You must also clean your teeth and gums, each time after you have food but not with a toothbrush. Simple rinse with water is considered good for overall oral health and hygiene.

Following this tooth brushing habit will help you prevent cavity formation in the first place and also heal a small cavity naturally in its earliest stage.

NO To Tooth Brushing After Eating Acidic Foods

You must wait for 30 minutes to one hour after consumption of acidic foods and drinks. The acid in the food or drink otherwise may erode the enamel layer and regular habit may cause exposed dentin leading to pain and sensitivity and increased risk of developing cavities.

Use Gentle And Short Strokes When Brushing: The Correct Way To Maximise Benefits Of Toothbrushing

Use gentle, short strokes to brush your front teeth and thoroughly clean your mouth without abrading the enamel and preventing cavities from developing.

Brush the outside surfaces as well as the back molars and upper areas of your chewing surfaces. Brush the inside surfaces of both top and bottom front teeth by flipping your toothbrush upside down.

Brush your tongue to get rid of any bacteria or plaque.

Use A Fluoride Toothpaste To Repair Cavity And Stop It From Getting Worse

Fluoride can greatly help achieve oral and dental health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay. 

Fluoride reduces the amount of acid produced by the bacteria on your mouth and also helps the cavity in its earliest stage to repair and heal. 

Floss Daily To Stop Cavities From Getting Worse

Many people, despite knowing the benefits of flossing daily, just neglect it.

According to a study, flossing is highly effective in reducing the interproximal caries risk. 

Daily floss can help stimulate your gums and reduce plaque leading to lesser inflammation risk and increased healing process of the cavity in its earliest stage.

Consider Mouthwash To Stop Cavities From Getting Worse

Therapeutic Mouthwashes contain ADA listed active ingredients such as fluoride, peroxide, essential oils, cetylpyridinium chloride, and chlorhexidine, preventing cavities from forming and naturally healing the formed cavity in its earliest stage.

Therapeutic mouthwashes, as the name suggests have therapeutic action and control dental conditions like gingivitis, tooth decay and periodontal diseases. They also help remove halitosis.

According to a research published in the journal of clinical medicine research, mouthwash containing chlorhexidine gluconate or cetylpyridinium chloride showed antimicrobial activity against most bacteria in the plaque biofilm.

Another study concluded that the chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride containing antiseptic mouthwashes had higher in-vitro antibacterial activity against streptococcus mutans, a bacteria found in the plaque biofilm.

Eat Foods Rich In Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus And Vitamins To Stop Cavities From Getting Worse

Calcium Rich Foods To Heal Cavities Naturally

Calcium plays an important role in enamel remineralization and saliva production.

The remineralization process is essential for the cavity to reverse naturally.

Optimal saliva production acts as a natural cleanser and prevents plaque accumulation and acts as an adjunct in the process of healing cavity naturally.

All thanks to calcium rich foods like cauliflower, nuts, salmons and figs.

Magnesium Rich Foods To Heal Cavities Naturally

Magnesium is essential for remineralization of the enamel as well as to maintain a balance of minerals like calcium and phosphorus.

Magnesium deficiency will lead to enamel demineralization and weakening of the enamel, halting the natural healing of the cavity.

Leafy green vegetables, avocado and squash seeds are some magnesium rich foods that you can consider.

Phosphorus Rich Foods To Heal Cavities Naturally

Foods like meat, eggs and dairy products are rich in phosphorus and help in naturally healing the cavity in its earliest stage.

Vitamin D Rich Foods To Heal Cavities Naturally

Vitamin D is essential for calcium and phosphorus absorption in the body and its deficiency eventually wastes the calcium you intake.

Spending a few minutes in the morning sun gives an adequate amount of vitamin D to the body. However, foods like fish and egg yolks are rich vitamin D sources.

Vitamin D And Cavity Prevention: What Research Says?

According to research, children with vitamin D deficiency had an increased risk of developing enamel defects and tooth fracture.

Another clinical trial reported vitamin D to be a prominent agent for caries prevention.

Study published in the journal of dental research, concluded that vitamin D is essential for lowering the risk of developing caries in children.

Consult Your Dentist Twice In A Year

It is important to get your oral health checked twice every year with an interval of 6 months between two visits.

Your dentist can help remove calculus and locate cavities and will also be able to spot potential oral health issues, if any, and offer treatment solutions.

Fluoride treatments initiated in the earliest stages of tooth cavity may help it to reverse and heal.

Dental Cleaning To Prevent Cavities Formation 

Dental cleaning can help in removing the plaque and tartar and thus prevent decay or gum disease or periodontal disease of any type.

It is recommended to get your teeth cleaned by a dental hygienist or dentist every 3 months or twice a year with a gap of 6 months.

Dental cleaning has several benefits like:

  1. Halts the progression of gum and periodontal diseases
  1. Removes tartar and prevents initiation of periodontal infection
  1. Prevents halitosis or bad breath
  1. Helps maintain good oral hygiene and prevents tooth loss
  1. Prevents formation of pockets between teeth and gums
  1. Protects infection of the tooth and root
  1. Prevents tooth decay and cavity formation

Dental Fillings To Prevent Cavities From Getting Worse

Dental filling, as the name suggests, is the use of various materials to fill the hole in the teeth called cavities. 

Materials used to fill the cavities are referred to as Filling Materials and the process is known as Dental Filling.

Dental Filling seals the hole and prevents bacterial infiltration, resulting in healing of the cavity.


This blog post addressed the topic, “do cavities get worse if untreated”. We understood if we can stop a cavity from getting worse, what a dental cavity is and how can we stop it from getting worse. The article outlined the benefits of toothbrushing, flossing, mouthwash, dental cleaning and dental fillings in preventing the cavity from getting worse.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs): Do Cavities Get Worse If Untreated

What happens if you have a cavity for too long?

If you have a cavity untreated for too long, it spreads and destroys the enamel, reaching the dentin and may even reach pulp. Once the cavity reaches pulp, it causes pulp infection leading to tooth pain and sensitivity. 

If tooth infection is left for too long, it can spread to adjoining jaw bone causing inability to open mouth and even osteomyelitis of jaw bone. Untreated tooth infection may also affect the heart causing infective endocarditis and increased risk of heart diseases.

Do cavities spread if untreated?

No, cavities do not spread but may result from the same cause once again on another tooth.

Cavities do not spread from one tooth to another but may be caused by the same process and under the same conditions if proper treatment and oral hygiene is not maintained.

However, cavities do spread in the tooth it is present leading to pulpal infection and infection spreading to jaw and surrounding tissues.

How long does it take for a cavity to destroy a tooth?

It can take a few months to years for a cavity to destroy a tooth depending upon the overall oral health and hygiene of the patient and their dietary habits.

Eating and drinking acidic foods and drinks can expedite the entire destruction process along with poor oral hygiene.

Can a cavity go away on its own?

No, a cavity cannot heal or go away on its own without taking necessary prevention steps.

If the cavity is just in its initial stage where the white spot is visible on the tooth, it is the time to take preventive actions such as toothbrushing, mouth washing and flossing daily.

At stage one, when the white spot has just appeared, the cavity can be reversed with proper oral hygiene.

However, if ignored, the cavity will progress down the enamel surface, reach the dentin and may even progress to pulp to cause pain, sensitivity and even tooth loss.

Can cavity fillings fall out?

Cavity fillings are not there to remain for a long time and will fall eventually in a month or two if it is a temporary filling, or 10-15 years in case of silver fillings and 5 years in case of composite fillings.

If it falls, do not panic and visit your dentist to get a permanent filling done. If ignored, it may cause bacterial invasion leading to infection of the tooth and pain.

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

Do apples cause cavities?

Do cavities go away after filling?

Do cavities mean bad hygiene?


Can You Reverse a Cavity? (2020)

The Tooth Decay Process: How to Reverse It and Avoid a Cavity. (2018)

5 Amazingly Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Cavities. (2017)

Can You Cure Tooth Decay (Cavities) Naturally?

Disadvantages and Advantages of Deep Cleaning Teeth. (2020)

Teeth cleaning damage your teeth? Risk vs benefit

What Is a Filling? Colgate

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