Cavities are the result of tooth decay. They are more prevalent during childhood and adolescence, but adults are susceptible as well. Poor oral health habits, a lack of fluoride, diet, heredity factors and some medical conditions all contribute to the development of cavities, but plaque is the worst enemy of all.
Plaque buildup is promoted from the sweet and starchy foods that we eat. The acid in the bacteria eats away tooth enamel until the infection gets through the tooth and forms a cavity. Plaque can be removed with regular flossing, and brushing with a fluoride toothpaste.
The hereditary and medical factors may be unavoidable, but if you know you are highly susceptible you should make it a point to have regular dental checkups.
There may not be any obvious symptoms until the infection has moved to the inside of the tooth where the nerve endings are. Then you will feel pain and your tooth sensitivity will increase. You may notice some discoloration around the tooth.
Surface cavities will be recognized during a dental exam. If the cavity is below the surface or between the teeth xrays may be needed to identify it.
The area will be numbed and the cavity will be removed with a fine tuned dental drill and replaced with an appropriate filling. When the decay is gone the pain it caused will go away too. If your dentist feels that you may need extra methods to prevent more cavities he will recommend a professional fluoride treatment or a sealant.