Do cavities spread to other teeth?

This blog post will address the topic, “do cavities spread to other teeth” and cover topics like cavity formation stages, how fast do cavities grow, can you stop a cavity when it starts, time taken by a cavity to destroy tooth, if a cavity can be stopped from getting worse, if cavities can spread to brain and things to consider to stop cavities from forming and spreading.

Do cavities spread to other teeth?

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.

Cavity Formation & Its Stages

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.

Consumption of sugary and starch rich foods expose the tooth to acids frequently, resulting in mineral loss from the enamel.

Infrequent tooth brushing habits cause poor oral hygiene, resulting in plaque accumulation.

Plaque is a sticky film containing bacteria that coats the protective enamel of your teeth. These bacteria produce acids by breaking down the food debris and the acids penetrate the enamel leading to formation of white spots on the teeth.

The cavity formation takes place in 5 stages:


  • Appearance of the white spots on the surface of the tooth as the mineral loss begins from enamel due to bacterial acid attack.
  • This stage can be reversed with preventive actions and maintaining good oral hygiene.


  • If the white spots are ignored and no preventive actions are initiated, the repeated acid attacks wear down the mineral and enamel is decayed
  • Visible hole is seen and now the cavity becomes irreversible.


  • The decay moves down further and attacks the inner soft dentin
  • This is called as Advanced Cavity Stage
  • Slight pain and sensitivity starts


  • In this stage, the decay finally reaches the pulp and irritates the nerves
  • Pain, sometimes excruciating, Sensitivity and Discomfort is seen in this stage.
  • Root Canal is the only treatment option other than extraction.


  • After pulp involvement, if treatment is not initiated, the infection spreads to the surrounding structures of the tooth and inflammation is caused
  • Extreme pain and even tooth loss may result

How Fast Do Cavities Grow?

The cavities grow as fast as six months or may take longer ranging from four to five years, depending on the condition of your oral cavity.

Can you stop a cavity when it starts?

Yes, a cavity can be stopped in its earliest stage once it starts. Preventive actions like toothbrushing with a fluoride toothpaste, daily flossing and mouthwash can reverse the cavity formation in this stage.

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 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.

Can Cavities Spread To Your Brain?

Yes, if left untreated, cavities may spread deep to the pulp resulting in tooth infection. Ascending tooth infections may enter the brain through sinuses or blood and lead to abscess formation in the brain.

Stop Cavity From Forming and Spreading: 9 Things To Consider

Choice Of Toothbrush

You might be brushing twice daily but with the wrong toothbrush. Selection of an appropriate toothbrush plays a very crucial role in removal of plaque and food debris.

Toothbrushes with more rounded bristles are soft to your teeth and are considered to be an ideal toothbrush to use.

Using a hard-bristled toothbrush may abrade the enamel and lead to dental abrasion, recession of gums and increased risk of developing cavities due to thinning of enamel.

A 2014 study concluded that electric toothbrushes may be more effective in reducing plaque and gingivitis than manual brushes in the short and long term. 

As effective plaque removal is crucial in achieving caries free teeth, an electric toothbrush with rotating heads must be your choice of toothbrush.

Correct Technique Of Brushing Teeth

Sometimes you brush your teeth daily twice and still get cavities. The reason behind this may be hidden in the toothbrushing technique you follow.

While daily brushing, we pay little attention to the technique involved in toothbrushing and therefore end up getting cavities.

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

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.

Toothpaste You Use Matters!

You might be following all oral hygiene routines and yet end up with a cavity. Unfortunately, your toothpaste might be the culprit.

High abrasive toothpastes abrade your enamel layer, thinning the enamel and increasing the chances of cavity formation multifold. 

To maximise the benefits of toothbrushing, you must choose a toothpaste which has a RDA value of 250 or less.

You should look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance while choosing your toothpaste or any teeth whitening products.

Fluoride toothpaste 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. 

Proper Diet: Essential For Preventing Dental Cavities

Diet plays a crucial role in preventing cavity formation. Proper diet with less sugar and more calcium, may significantly decrease the risk of developing cavities.

However, a diet with frequent intake of sugar, starchy foods and acidic foods and drinks may increase the risk of dental cavities as they result in increased bacterial attack and thinning of enamel from demineralisation.

A research study concluded that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages on a regular basis increases the chances of having dental caries.

Another study reported that all sugars can be fermented by the oral bacteria and are therefore a potential cause of cavities and tooth decay.

Foods rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin D increases the tooth strength and their resistance against cavity forming bacteria.

A 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.

Hence, if you maintain good oral hygiene and still develop cavities, you need to check your diet and eating habits.

Structure Of Your Teeth (Teeth Morphology)

The structure of the teeth are different for different people. Some may have too many pits and fissures and grooves on the tooth surface while some may have gaps in between the teeth.

Morphology of teeth plays a decisive role in cavity formation. The food particles get stuck in these pits, fissures, grooves and gaps between the teeth, not possible to remove from brushing, resulting in plaque buildup, acid attacks on enamel by plaque bacteria and finally cavities formation.

Wisdom tooth or partially erupted tooth creates a favorable environment for the bacteria to get trapped between the crown and periodontal soft tissues causing inflammation and infection.

Choice Of Mouthwash

Therapeutic Mouthwashes contain ADA listed active ingredients such as fluoride, peroxide, essential oils, cetylpyridinium chloride, and chlorhexidine, preventing cavities from forming and naturally healing and reversing 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.

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
  1. 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.

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.


This blog post addressed the topic, “do cavities spread to other teeth”. We understood cavity formation stages, how fast do cavities grow, if you can stop a cavity once it starts, time taken by a cavity to destroy a tooth, if a cavity can be stopped from getting worse and if cavities can spread to the brain. The article outlined things to consider to stop cavities from forming and spreading.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs): Do Cavities Spread To Other Teeth

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.

Can a cavity heal 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.

Why are my teeth rotting even though I brush?

Your teeth are rotting even though you brush because either you are not brushing with a proper technique or there may be several pits and grooves present on the occlusal surface of your teeth.

The food particles get stuck in these pits and grooves, not possible to remove from brushing, resulting in plaque buildup, acid attacks on enamel by plaque bacteria and finally cavities formation.

Visit your dentist to get those pits and grooves sealed to prevent formation of cavities.

Can You Brush Away A Cavity

A cavity is a permanent damage of the enamel layer that needs to be repaired by using filling materials like composite or porcelain or an amalgam.

Once you have a cavity, it is not possible to brush it away. However, it can be filled and prevented from further damaging your tooth.

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

Do cavities need to be filled immediately?

Do cavities only get worse?

Do fillings for cavities hurt?


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)

Dental Health and Tooth Fillings. (2019)

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