Munson Health
Tooth Decay

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by Alan R

(Cavities; Dental Caries; Dental Decay)


Risk Factors

Everyone has the chance to develop tooth decay. Factors that may increase your risk of cavities include:
Babies are also at risk for developing cavities. Habits that can increase the risk include giving a bottle between regular feedings or while in bed at night.


Sometimes tooth decay will repair itself. This is most likely if it is caught early.
Treatment for more severe decay includes:


When decay reaches the dentin, your dentist will treat it by:
  • Numbing the tooth and surrounding tissue area
  • Removing the decay with instruments
  • Filling the hole with a dental filling; the filling can be silver or tooth colored

Root Canal

  • The tooth is numbed and a hole is drilled through the top of the tooth.
  • Pus and dead tissue are removed from the tooth.
  • The inside of the tooth and the root (nerve) canals are cleaned and filled with a permanent filling.
  • The root (nerve) canal is sealed.
  • A crown is placed on the tooth to protect it.

Tooth Extraction (Removal)

  • Tooth decay and/or tooth infection is too extensive for filling or root canal.
  • A break or crack in the tooth that has allowed for decay is too severe to be repaired.
  • An extensive infection exists between the tooth and gum.
If the tooth is removed, it will be replaced with:
  • A partial bridge
  • A denture
  • A tooth implant
If you are diagnosed with tooth decay, follow your dentist's instructions .


Academy of General Dentistry

American Dental Association



Canadian Dental Association

The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association



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8/2/2012 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Khadra-Eid J, Baudet D, Fourny M, Sellier E, Brun C, François P. Development of a screening scale for children at risk of baby bottle tooth decay. Arch Pediatr . 2012;19(3):235-241.

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