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How to Stop Root Cavities

Root cavities are medical situations that occur after enamel erosion. They are created by constant acidic attacks from diets that cause bacterial infections in your mouth. They cause holes to develop on the tooth’s surface. These holes are called cavities. Hence, the ones developed on the root surface are root cavities.

Apart from being physically displeasing, tooth cavities are a dangerous dental problem and require professional treatment.

Symptoms of tooth root cavities

Major symptoms of the root cavity include:

  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods or drinks
  • Pain from biting or chewing when using the affected tooth/teeth
  • Enamel loss and exposed dentin layer
  • Gum recession and exposed tooth root
  • Pus or blood swelling in the affected tooth
  • Chipped, broken, or cracked tooth
  • Affected tooth/teeth may be discolored or appear stained
  • A dental abscess is a strong symptom

6 common causes of root cavities

Some of the common causes of root cavities are listed below.

Poor dental hygiene

When teeth management is poor, they become vulnerable to attacks, especially from what you eat and drink. The acids in them cause plaque to develop an infection, which erodes the enamel and spreads to the gums. This can cause cavities over a long period if not properly treated.

Not brushing teeth properly

Not brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing, or using enough Fluoride toothpaste is bad for your oral health. 


Smoking is generally bad for your dental health. It is banned in public places across multiple countries due to the health hazards it poses. Due to its constituent, tobacco, it can affect your teeth and make them vulnerable to infections. It weakens the enamel and also causes inflammation in the mouth. It also leaves the mouth dried, which likely leads to gum recession.


Age is a natural risk to your teeth, and cavities are more likely to happen to older teeth. The reason is that old people have natural gum recession that exposes the teeth, and infections can easily creep into the roots.

Medications and gum injury

If you’ve ever had a severe injury to your teeth or gums, they can be an easier target for infections. Also, some medications can cause dry mouth when attempting to treat the injury. A dry mouth combined with gum injuries will always be catastrophic.

Tartar buildup

Plaque is a layer of bacteria that develops from what you eat and drink. Over time, it grows to become tartar. Tartar can be extremely stubborn to remove and has the potential to spread to your gums easily. It can wear away your enamel and leave the gums unprotected. 

Points to Remember: from Scientific Reports: Poor dental health and oral hygiene have been reported to be associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease by several observational studies.

How do root cavities develop?

Root cavities develop in five stages:


This stage subjects your teeth to active acidic attacks from your diet. Enamel is the hardest tissue in the body and may take considerable time to get affected. However, the acidic attacks continue to drain the minerals from the enamel. This causes the enamel to weaken and, with time, it becomes vulnerable. 

Enamel erosion

This is a situation where the enamel wears away due to acidic attacks. After the enamel erosion begins, the teeth may reflect yellow dentin if you have thin enamel. Also, due to the enamel’s weakness, hard brushing can wear it away. It is possible to treat the cavity at this stage. 

Dentin decay

Once it gets to this stage, the enamel is lost, and there’s nothing you can do about it anymore. Dentin decay happens due to the inner layer of the teeth being exposed. This layer is soft and very sensitive. Your teeth will be sensitive to hot and cold drinks and food. It can also be painful. 

Effect on the pulp

This stage is irreversible. Once the decay reaches the pulp, you must opt for root canal surgery or remove the teeth. At this stage, you will feel extreme pain and be unable to use your teeth effectively. 

Also Read: Are root canals dangerous?

Tooth abscess

The final stage is the tooth abscess. This stage is irreversible and needs the urgent attention of a dental professional. If not prioritized, it spreads quickly, and you can end up with multiple teeth decaying in time. You will likely have holes in your gums and teeth at this stage. A root canal is the only solution here.

5 major dangers of leaving root cavities untreated

Leaving root cavities untreated is one of the worst ideas ever. If the cavities have grown to the later stages, below are possible complications. 

Discomfort and Pain

When root cavities reach the later stages of development, the pain goes from bad to worst. The more it grows without treatment, the more pain you will feel. There will be pain from using your teeth for almost anything, like chewing, biting, or swallowing.

The teeth become extra sensitive. They react to hot and cold drinks and foods. You can’t take anything warm or cold without feeling discomfort in your teeth.

Spreading of the infection

Once the decay is untreated, it spreads quickly to other parts of the tooth and mouth. Your condition will worsen almost every day since it spreads within the gums. 

Facial swelling

When root cavities grow, they affect the surrounding part of the mouth and cause swelling. Your mouth, cheek, or face may swell up.

Tooth loss

When the cavities develop without being treated, it can lead to tooth loss. The cavities can devour the tooth and make it impossible to salvage it.

Fatal condition

If left untreated still, root cavities may be fatal. The spread occurs within the root, where the cells and tissues are located. The decay can spread to the bloodstream, and that can be extreme. In some cases, it could be fatal. 

How to Treat a root cavity? 

Treating root decay is common and the treatment types used are:

Root canal: This is a dental procedure that involves the removal of the soft pulp of the tooth. The treatment eliminates infection and protects the tooth from future infections. A root canal is effective and has a high success rate. 

Fluoride Treatment: This treatment is used for treating the early stages of root cavities. This procedure helps revitalize the teeth. Quality Fluoride gel is used for this treatment. 

Dental filling: When the pulp is getting affected, chances are that the cavities have created holes. Your dentist can fill the holes with composite material and adjust the material to smooth out the surface. This treatment is also for the early stage of the cavity. 

Tooth extraction and implant: If the teeth have been battered or affected beyond repair, tooth extraction might be carried out. Then a new tooth is implanted with a crown to balance the teeth structure. 

Also Read:

How to prevent root cavities

Preventing tooth decay on the root surface can be done by undertaking the following: 

  • Brush your teeth twice daily with a quality fluoride paste. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. 
  • Floss properly at least once a day. It is advisable to do it at night before sleeping. 
  • Cut back on sugary or acidic foods and drinks that negatively impact your teeth.
  • Eat healthily! Improve your diet by following a diet plan.
  • Visit your dentist at least twice a year for checkups and treatments 

Root cavities or decay is a dangerous medical situation requiring urgent professional attention. If not treated early, delayed treatment can cost you a lot of money. As this article highlights, equipping yourself with possible symptoms can help identify them early.

Points to Remember: from Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology: Dental caries remains the most common chronic disease globally, with corresponding exorbitant costs in healthcare budgets.

When does a cavity need a root canal? 

Root canals are used when root cavities are getting to the extreme stages. Usually, if the root decay has gotten to the pulp, it is irreversible, and the best treatment option is a root canal. At this stage, the cavities would be causing pains and holes in the gum and teeth.

Can a cavity destroy your tooth entirely? 

It is possible, but it is unlikely that will happen. Naturally, the pain will become unbearable when the root decay gets to your pulp, which is the third stage. Seeking medical attention will be the right thing to do. However, you can decide against seeking medical attention for financial reasons. When this happens, you can lose your tooth, and the decay can spread to other teeth and the jaw. 

Can I have root cavities and not feel pain? 

Yes, it is possible, but rare. Root cavities are meant to be painful. However, if the bacteria infection attacked the pulp and killed the nerve tissues, it may be possible not to feel pain. 

This condition is even more dangerous because you don’t realize the dangers you are in until it gets extreme or noticed by your dentist.

Is there a difference between root cavities and tooth decay? 

The two terms are used interchangeably, but there is a tiny difference between them. While root cavities have to do with an acid attack on the root of your teeth,
tooth decay generalizes bacteria development from the acid consumption that erodes the teeth’s enamel.

Can an implanted tooth have cavities? 

No, the implanted tooth cannot have cavities. Due to the nature of the products used for implantation, they cannot be affected by cavities. However, when an implanted tooth is not conformed to a proper dental routine, it can get stained with plaques. 

Can saltwater heal cavities? 

A dentist should treat cavities in all circumstances. However, you can use salt water to temporarily care for your cavities. When you rinse your teeth with salt water, it kills the bacteria in the mouth. Also, it enhances your saliva by neutralizing acids in the mouth.

Can cavities heal themselves? 

Cavities cannot heal by themselves. When you stop feeling pains from cavities, it has not healed; it has killed the nerve cells that transmit pains from the tooth. So, rather than rejoicing, you must visit your dentist immediately for treatment. 

No matter the at-home remedies used, cavities still require proper treatment before they can be fixed. 


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