Put simply, a cavity is a hole that develops in a tooth as a result of tooth decay.

Origins of tooth decay result from a reaction caused by the combination of the bacteria in the translucent film known as plaque (pronounced "plack") that covers teeth with the acids and starches that enter the mouth with food and drinks.

Plaque is a sticky, nasty, clear substance made up of saliva, bacteria, food particles and other elements. It resides in tiny areas of your mouth where it can do the most damage - between teeth, in the chips, cracks or holds in teeth, and between the teeth and gums.

The acidic byproducts of this mixture wear away at a tooth’s enamel, its thin layer of hard protective tissue. Gradually minerals are leeched from the enamel, causing it to weaken and decay.

The first sign of tooth decay is a small whitened area of the tooth where minerals have been removed. As the decay continues, the surface of the enamel deteriorates and a hole develops in the tooth. This hole, also known as a carie, is a dental cavity.

If not treated promptly, a cavity will grow as the tooth continues to decay, which will lead to other more serious problems such as infection and the ultimate loss of the tooth. 

Treatment for cavities includes dental fillings, dental bonding and extraction.

The treatment of cavities is in the field of General Dentistry. This means that any certified dental professional can treat your cavities, since all dental specialists are also trained in general dentistry.

Related Dental Specialties

General Dentistry

Related Dental Treatments

Dental fillings

Dental bonding


Tooth extraction