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Signs of a Cavity Between Teeth and How to Prevent Them

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January 22, 2024

Have you ever felt a sudden twinge of pain while enjoying your favorite treat or sipping on a hot cup of coffee? Many people experience discomfort in their teeth at some point in their lives, and one common culprit is a cavity.

This article will uncover the telltale indicators of a cavity forming between your pearly whites. So, let's dive right in and explore what these signs are, how to prevent them, and what to do if you suspect you've got a cavity between your teeth.

What Exactly Is a Cavity Between Teeth?

A cavity between teeth, also known as an interproximal cavity, is a small hole or decay that forms within these spaces. It can occur when plaque and bacteria build up between teeth, gradually eroding the protective enamel and leading to damage.

Common Causes of Dental Cavities

Dental cavities can result from various factors and habits that affect the health of your teeth. These causes include:

Bacterial Activity: The primary cause of cavities is bacterial activity; these bacteria feed on sugars and carbohydrates from your diet, leading to the production of acid as a byproduct.

Dietary Factors: Your dietary choices play a pivotal role in cavity development. Foods and drinks can significantly impact your risk of cavities.

Sugary and Starchy Foods: Foods and beverages rich in sugar and starch provide a ready food source for cavity-causing bacteria.

Frequent Snacking: Constant snacking, especially on sugary or acidic items, limits the time for saliva to naturally neutralize acids in your mouth.

Soft Drinks and Fruit Juices: Beverages like soda and fruit juices, often laden with sugars and acids, can be particularly harmful to your tooth enamel.

Poor Oral Hygiene: Proper oral hygiene practices are crucial for cavity prevention.

Inadequate Brushing and Flossing: Skipping or performing inadequate brushing and flossing routines can allow plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, to accumulate on your teeth.

Lack of Fluoride: Fluoride is a mineral found in toothpaste and some water sources that strengthens enamel. A lack of fluoride can leave your teeth more vulnerable to cavities.

Dry Mouth: Saliva helps neutralize acids and wash away food particles and bacteria, so a dry mouth provides less protection against cavity formation.

Infrequent Dental Checkups: Skipping regular dental checkups means missing opportunities for early cavity detection and professional cleanings, which can help prevent cavities.

Delaying Treatment: Ignoring cavity symptoms or postponing treatment can allow cavities to progress, potentially leading to more extensive dental issues.

Age: Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to cavities due to factors like weaker enamel in children and receding gums in older adults.

Genetics: Genetic factors can impact the composition and strength of your tooth enamel, potentially affecting your susceptibility to cavities.

In essence, having a comprehensive awareness of all of the aforementioned is necessary in order to prevent the creation of these and to keep one's dental health in excellent condition.

The Subtle Signs You Shouldn't Ignore

Now that we have a clear picture of what we are dealing with, let's talk about the signs of a cavity between teeth. These signals can be quite subtle, but they should not be overlooked. Here's what to watch out for:

Tooth Sensitivity

When you feel a sharp, twinging pain in your teeth after sipping a hot cup of coffee or biting into an ice cream cone, it's time to take notice because it can be a clear sign of trouble brewing between your teeth.

Pain While Chewing

Experiencing discomfort or pain, especially when you're munching down on something, is a red flag, and this discomfort might be localized to specific areas between your teeth, indicating a cavity's presence.

Visible Holes or Pits

If you happen to spot visible holes or pits on the surface of your teeth, particularly in the tight spaces between them, don't ignore these signs because they are like neon signs pointing to the presence of dental cavities.

Tooth Discoloration

Noticing brown, black, or even white stains between your teeth is a sign that tooth decay might be at play, and these discolored patches are warning flags alerting you to the presence of cavities that need your attention.

Floss Snagging

When your dental floss repeatedly gets caught or shreds in specific areas between your teeth, it's not just an inconvenience; it's a clue that might be due to irregularities or rough spots caused by cavities.

Bad Breath

Despite your diligent oral hygiene routine, if bad breath continues to linger, it might not be a simple case of morning breath. Cavities can be culprits behind persistent bad breath. The bacteria thriving in cavities release foul odors, contributing to unpleasant breath.

Swollen Gums

Cavities don't just affect teeth; they can also irritate the gums around them, so if you notice redness and swelling in your gum tissue, it could be due to cavities, indicating the need for dental intervention.

Unpleasant Taste

An unpleasant taste lingering in your mouth, often described as metallic or bitter, can be your body's way of signaling that something isn't right between your teeth and is worth investigating as a potential indicator of tooth decay between your teeth.

Learning to recognize these symptoms is the key to prompt treatment and keeping your dental health in good shape. Dental problems can worsen if ignored, so paying attention to them is important.

a woman in a dental office cupping her face due to toothache

Treatment Options for Cavities Between Teeth

When a cavity between teeth is identified, prompt treatment is essential to prevent further damage and ensure tooth health. Several treatment options are available, depending on the cavity's size and severity.

Dental Fillings

Small cavities can often be effectively treated with dental fillings. The function and look of the tooth can be restored by filling and sealing the cavity using materials like composite resin.

Inlays and Onlays

When dealing with larger cavities, inlays and onlays are effective options. These are custom-made fillings designed to fit the cavity precisely and are often used when traditional fillings are insufficient.

Root Canal Therapy

Deep cavities that have reached the pulp chamber of the tooth could call for a root canal procedure. This involves removing the infected pulp, cleaning the inner chambers, and sealing the tooth, ultimately saving it from extraction.


For cavities that have significantly weakened the tooth structure, a dental crown may be necessary after the filling or root canal treatment. Crowns provide a protective cover, restoring the tooth's strength and function.


In situations where a tooth has suffered damage that cannot be repaired, extraction might be the only option. Following an extraction, replacement options like dental implants or bridges can be considered.

Preventive Treatments

Alongside these treatment options, dentists often recommend preventive measures. These can include fluoride treatments and dental sealants, which help safeguard surrounding teeth from cavity formation.

The severity of a cavity between teeth dictates the course of treatment that is most suitable to fill it. Hence, early detection is necessary for tooth preservation and to avoid more invasive procedures.

Best Practices for Cavity Prevention and Management

Keeping your teeth free of cavities is a simple yet important aspect of taking care of your oral health. Let's explore proactive measures to keep cavities at bay:

Regular Dental Checkups

  • Schedule routine dental checkups at least twice a year.
  • Professional cleanings and examinations can detect cavities in their early stages.

Daily Brushing and Flossing

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Ensure thorough brushing, covering all tooth surfaces.
  • Floss daily to remove food particles and plaque from between teeth and along the gumline.

Fluoride Toothpaste

  • Use toothpaste that contains fluoride.
  • Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, making it more resistant to acid attacks.

Balanced Dietary Choices

  • Be mindful of your sugar and acid intake.
  • Opt for a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products.
  • Avoid excessive snacking between meals, which can increase the risk of cavities.

Stay Hydrated

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Water helps flush away food particles and bacteria, reducing the risk of cavity formation.

Use a Mouthwash

  • Incorporate an antimicrobial or fluoride mouthwash into your oral hygiene routine for added protection.

Limit Acidic Beverages

  • Minimize the consumption of highly acidic drinks like soda and fruit juices.
  • Use a straw to reduce direct contact with teeth when consuming acidic beverages.

Avoid Tobacco Products

  • Smoking and tobacco use can increase the risk of cavities and gum disease.
  • Quitting tobacco is beneficial for both oral and overall health.

Protective Dental Sealants

  • Consider dental sealants, especially for children and teenagers.
  • Sealants provide an extra layer of protection for vulnerable tooth surfaces.

As soon as you begin incorporating these habits into your life, your smile will thank you for many years to come.

a person in a mask and gloves examining a person's teeth

When to Seek Dental Care for Dental Cavity Concerns

An important part of taking care of your teeth and gums is knowing when to see a dentist about cavities. Some potential reasons to contact the dentist are listed below:

  • Tooth Pain: Persistent or severe tooth pain, especially when chewing or consuming hot or cold foods, warrants a dentist visit.
  • Visible Holes or Discoloration: If you see holes, pits, or noticeable discoloration on your teeth, it's time for an evaluation.
  • Sensitivity: Tooth sensitivity to temperature changes, sugary foods, or acids should prompt a dental visit.
  • Gum Problems: Swollen, red, or bleeding gums, particularly around a specific tooth, require professional attention.
  • Persistent Bad Breath: Chronic bad breath, despite good oral hygiene, may be linked to cavities.
  • Floss Snagging: Dental floss consistently getting caught or tearing in specific areas could be due to cavities.
  • Regular Checkups: Routine dental checkups are essential for early detection, even in the absence of symptoms.
  • Change in Tooth Sensation: Noticeable changes in tooth sensation should prompt a dental evaluation.
  • Prior Cavities: If you have a history of cavities or dental fillings, regular checkups are vital.
  • Oral Health Concerns: Any concerns or questions about your oral health should be discussed with your dentist during a checkup or a separate appointment.

Cavity Worries? River's Edge Dental Has You Covered!

Are you worried about the health of your teeth? The signs of a cavity between your teeth can be subtle, but at River's Edge Dental, we're here to help you detect and address this hidden threat before it becomes a major issue.

Our skilled and caring team is here to help you detect and treat cavities between your teeth. We combine state-of-the-art equipment and years of knowledge to offer you an accurate diagnosis and successful treatments, preventing further damage and discomfort.

So, don't let cavities ruin your smile; act now and schedule your appointment.


In the battle against cavities between teeth, knowledge is your greatest weapon. By recognizing the signs early on and following good oral hygiene practices, you can maintain a radiant smile and avoid unwelcome dental surprises.

Remember, it's all about regular maintenance and addressing problems before they become major issues.


Please schedule your next appointment by calling us at (123) 456-7890