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What are dental caries (cavity)?

A dental or tooth cavity is a hollow space formed in the tooth due to alternate demineralisation and remineralisation of the tooth structure. Dental caries is a biofilm-driven, sugar-dependant disease that can occur at any age.

Caries can occur in both milk teeth (primary dentition) and permanent teeth (secondary dentition), resulting in the structural damage of the tooth.

Around 32% of the world population is affected by dental caries, making it the second most common disease after common cold.

What are its signs and symptoms?

The following are the signs and symptoms of dental caries:

Early signs include

  • Sensitivity to hot and cold foods
  • Pain or discomfort on biting
  • Tooth discolouration

Late symptoms include

  • Swelling of gums
  • Continuous unbearable pain
  • Night pain
  • Grossly broken teeth

Occasionally, you may experience no pain at all and may be surprised when your dentist finds a cavity in your teeth.

What are its main causes?

Cavity is caused by the bacteria present in the mouth, which attach to the teeth in the presence of sucrose, other sugars, and refined starches. These bacteria produce acid and erode the enamel, which is the strongest layer of the tooth.

Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus are the main bacteria responsible for dental caries.

Nursing bottle caries occurs when the baby is fed with sugary milk at bedtime.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

  • A dentist will first examine the oral cavity with the instruments, i.e., visual and tactile inspection.
  • If needed, the dentist may take a radiograph to confirm the visual inspection.
  • At the end, after correlating the findings with the patient’s symptoms, the dentist may suggest a treatment plan.
  • Depending on the extent of the cavity, the dentist may decide the procedure.
  1. Early treatment – Fluoridated varnish application may help in re-mineralising the enamel.
  2. In the later stages, the tooth needs to be restored with a filling or a root canal treatment, and in severely decayed cases, the dentist may extract the tooth.
  • There may be fever associated with dental infections, such as abscess
  • However, self-care, including having a nutritious and low sugary diet, is very important.

Differential Diagnosis

  • Initially, a white spot develops on the tooth indicating demineralisation. However, these white spots are sometimes intrinsic in nature, and this condition is known as dental fluorosis.
  • The tooth may get discoloured due to trauma as well. Hence, discolouration of a tooth does not always indicate a cavity.
  • There may be staining of pits and fissures due to tea and coffee. Hence, a dentist would first visually inspect before deciding on the treatment plan.

The duration of treatment may vary depending upon the length of the treatment. With recent technological advances, single sitting treatment plans are also possible. A dental treatment may get painful but rarely. Often, treatments are performed under local anaesthesia to give a painless experience. Caries might be treated by applying a fluoride gel or the teeth are filled using a filling. If it is deep, it might be cleaned and covered with a dental crown. If it is severe, the decayed tooth might need extraction.

Home-care remedies to prevent dental caries are

  • Twice-daily brushing
  • Use of fluoridated toothpaste
  • Regular self-examination of teeth
  • Use of mouthwash
  • Reduced in-between meals
  1. Medicines for Cavities (Dental Caries)

Medicines for Cavities (Dental Caries)

Medicines listed below are available for Cavities (Dental Caries). Please note that you should not take any medicines without doctor consultation. Taking any medicine without doctor's consultation can cause serious problems.

Medicine NamePack SizePrice (Rs.)
BrugelBrugel 5% W/W Gel114
SBL Eugenia caryophyllata DilutionSBL Eugenia caryophyllata Dilution 1000 CH86
FbnFbn 0.03% Eye Drop50
FlurbinFlurbin 0.03% W/V Eye Drop51
OcuflurOcuflur Eye Drop44
NitraNitra Oral Solution36
AflurAflur 0.03%W/V Ear Drops0
Bellflur Eye DropBellflur Eye Drop30
CadiflurCadiflur 0.03% Eye Drops45
EyeflurEyeflur 0.03% Eye Drops42
Flubi (Entod)Flubi 0.03% Eye Drops36
FlubifenFlubifen 0.03% Eye Drops24
FludropFludrop 0.03% Eye Drops28
FlufenFlufen 0.03% Eye Drops40
FlurbirenFlurbiren 0.03% Eye Drops40
FlurbitopFlurbitop Eye Drops20
FlurFlur Eye Drop116
KaziflurKaziflur 0.03%W/V Eye Drops52
LufenLufen Eye Drops34
Migrid (Crescent)Migrid 10 Mg Tablet28
OptifenOptifen 0.03% Eye Drops0
Profen Eye DropProfen 0.03% Eye Drops40
SioflurSioflur 0.03% Eye Drops28
FlbFlb Eye Drops71

Do you or anyone in your family have this disease? Please do a survey and help others


  1. National Health Service [Internet] NHS inform; Scottish Government; Tooth decay
  2. Yoon Lee. Diagnosis and Prevention Strategies for Dental Caries. J Lifestyle Med. 2013 Sep; 3(2): 107–109. PMID: 26064846
  3. Cologne, Germany [Internet]: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). Tooth decay; 2006-.2006 Mar 17 [Updated 2017 Sep 21].
  4. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Tooth Decay
  5. National Health Portal [Internet] India; Oral Health
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