How Do You Get Rid Of Cavities?

Jump to Section

The International Journal of Dental Clinics is reader supported. We may earn a commission if you purchase something using one of our links.

How do you get rid of cavities? We are sure you would like to know.

Cavities are awful to contend with, particularly if they are far progressed and causing you a terrible amount of pain.

The best cure is always preventing cavities from developing in the first place, but when that is not possible it is important to know what to do when you do develop a cavity. Most importantly, how do you get rid of cavities that have already developed? Are fillings, root canals or even full extractions necessary, or can tooth decay sometimes heal on its own?

In this article, we seek to answer all of these as well as other questions you may have about getting rid of cavities.

Getting rid of cavities is not a one size fits all

There are numerous different ways to get rid of cavities. In other words, there is no one blanket solution, and the approach that applies in your case depends on how far your cavity has been able to develop undetected and untreated.

Early stage cavities are treated very differently to final stage cavities and tooth abscesses. If your cavity is detected early enough, you may even be able to reverse the damage naturally, without any drilling, filling or extraction needed. However, in most cases, the tooth decay has developed beyond the point of natural healing by the time it is discovered, whether by yourself or your dentist.

How to get rid of early-stage cavities

The first stage of tooth decay is a weakening and an erosion of the tooth’s enamel surface. The enamel is the hard outer layer of your teeth, and it is in fact a tougher material than your bones.

Still, enamel is not impervious to decay. Dental cavities are caused by the acids emanated by the bacteria found in plaque. Plaque inevitably builds up around and between your teeth throughout the day, which is why it is so important to brush and floss between your teeth on a regular basis.

Rebuild and strengthen you enamel surface

Keep an eye out for tiny white spots developing on the surface layer of your teeth – they are the first sign that cavities are developing.

If you are fortunate enough to spot early stage tooth decay, you can treat it by rebuilding and strengthening the teeth’s enamel. This is done by getting very serious about your oral hygiene routine, and by using your not-s0-secret weapon, fluoride, to rebuild the missing enamel. 

How to get rid of cavities when the tooth decay is progressed

Once the tooth decay has penetrated the outer layer of the tooth, it is too late to treat it with fluoride and good oral hygiene. At this point, depending on exactly how far the decay has spread, only a filling, root canal or even an extraction will suffice.

Fillings, root canals and extractions

If the decay is still relatively minor, removing the decayed part of he tooth and replacing it with a filling may be enough to stop the decay. 

If, however, the decay has spread through the pulp to the root of the tooth, you are going to need a root canal. Root canal therapy is a much more invasive, difficult and expensive procedure than a filling, as the dentist will have to remove all of the pulp, the nerves and the blood vessels from inside the tooth – including from the roots. The tooth is then filled with a filling and usually topped off with a crown.

In severe cases, the entire tooth may have to be extracted to prevent infection from spreading to the surrounding gums, soft tissues and jaw bone.

How to prevent cavities 

Preventative measures are always better than cures. Here are the most important things you can do to prevent cavities from developing in your teeth.

Watch your diet, particularly your sugar intake

What you eat and drink on a daily basis can have a huge impact on whether or not you develop cavities.

If you regularly drink sugary beverages or alcohol, or if your diet involves frequent snacking and sugary foods, the odds of you developing cavities are going to be significantly increased.

Get religious about your daily oral hygiene routine

The importance of regularly brushing and flossing between your teeth to remove plaque and food particles cannot be overstated. A good level of dental hygiene is absolutely mandatory if you want to maintain or improve your current oral health, including preventing dental caries from setting in.

You probably already know this, but let us remind you that you should brush your teeth at least twice a day for at least 2 minutes each time. Floss between your teeth at least once a day, and always use a high fluoride toothpaste and fluoride mouthwash. Getting occasional professional fluoride treatments is also a good idea.

Learn how to spot pre-cavities

Learning how to spot early stage cavities can be a game-changer for your dental health.

In the beginning, dental caries visually appears as tiny white dots on the tooth enamel surface. If left untreated, these tiny spots will start getting darker and darker as more and more of the enamel is eroded, until they become tiny holes.

If your dentist spots these tiny white spots on your teeth he or she is going to advice you on how to prevent extensive decay from developing by practicing good oral hygiene and using fluoride and other treatments restore the tooth’s enamel. 

However, you should’t wait for the dental wellness professionals to discover your early stage tooth decay – learn to spot it yourself so you can begin to fight tooth decay sooner rather than later.

See your dentist regularly

There are countless good reasons to see your dentist for regular dental checkups, and spotting and treating tooth decay before it has progressed too far along is one of them.

Even if you know what early stage cavities look like, you may still overlook developing cavities, particularly if they are forming between or on the backs of your teeth where you cannot easily see them. Your dentist has the tools and expertise to be able to detect early stage cavities that may have slipped under your own radar.

Frequently asked questions about how to get rid of cavities

Can a cavity go away on its own?

Only if the tooth decay is identified and treated early on. 

The first stage of tooth decay is enamel erosion, and visually you can see it as tiny white spots appearing on the outermost layer of your teeth. 

If you set in with fluoride treatments, mouth rinses, oil pulling and healthy living, you may be able to protect your tooth health and stop the enamel erosion from developing into full-blown cavities. Using these same treatments, it is even possible to strengthen and restore the tooth enamel.

How do you get rid of cavities naturally?

The only way to get rid of cavities naturally is to spot them very early on, before the decay has penetrated the other layer of the tooth. Once the decay has reached the inner material, the only way to remove the cavities is to remove the decayed portion of the tooth.

Having said that, if you are able to identify early-stage caries, which looks like tiny white spots dotted across the surface of the tooth’s enamel, you might be able to make it go away by keeping it meticulously clean and strengthening it with fluoride treatments. 

How do you get a cavity to go away?

There are a few different options for making a cavity go away. Which treatment option applies in your case depends on one thing and one thing only, and that is how far your tooth decay has progressed.

If your cavity is in the very first stages of developing, you may be able to heal it naturally with a combination of keeping the area very clean with regular toothbrushing and flossing, and using more fluoride than you do normally. This means using a high-fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash, as well as professional fluoride treatments from your dentist or dental hygienist.

Can you get rid off a cavity without a filling?

In some cases, yes. If the decay is treated early, before it has fully penetrated the hard surface of the tooth’s enamel, fluoride treatments may be enough to save the tooth from further decay.

However, once the decay has reached the inside of the tooth, only a filling, a root canal or even a full tooth extraction will do the trick.

In conclusion

Cavities are very common oral health problems that most of us will experience at one point or another throughout our lives. 

Spotting a developing cavity early enough to be able to heal it with fluoride treatment and healthy living is sometimes but not always possible. In situations where a cavity has already developed and has reached the soft dentil layer, the pulp or even the roots inside the tooth, stopping the tooth decay from going any further is the top priority.

There are several different treatment options available to remove cavities – fillings, root canals, and sometimes full tooth removals may be necessary. Once the decay has been removed, you may need restorative dentistry to replace part of or even a complete missing tooth. 

Tooth loss, whether complete or partial, due to tooth decay is never a wished-for scenario, but it is always much better to get rid of the decay, as it will not go away by itself.

Dr Febin Mary George - Editor

With more than 10 years as a dental surgeon, Dr Febin Mary George is passionate about educating consumers around the world to help look after their teeth.

She completed her Bachelor of Surgery at the Century Institute of Dental Science and Research Centre in 2010.

Alongside editing the International Journal of Dental Clinics she has also written for major publications including Thrive Global.