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Do Small Cavities in Teeth Need Treatment?

Dentist examining impression of small cavity

A small cavity in your tooth may be hard to spot, and may not seem like a big deal. But a cavity isn’t like a common cold that you can heal from without the help of a doctor. Can a small cavity go away on its own? The answer is no. Without treatment, it will just get bigger.

At Toothfairy Pediatric Dental, we recommend regular oral routine visits for both adults and children to ensure cavities and other concerns are detected early so they can be treated quickly and easily.

What Causes Cavities?

A small cavity in your tooth is caused by eating sugary, starchy, or acidic foods. Bacteria in the mouth coat the teeth and then use these sugars to create acidic toxins that can dissolve your tooth enamel.

Acids dissolve minerals from the teeth, causing decalcified areas to get larger and deeper, eventually resulting in decay. Tooth decay can also form on root surfaces that may be exposed due to gum recession from age or gum disease. This deterioration process is much faster on root surfaces that are not covered with enamel.

Watch for the Signs

If the cavity has not yet entered the nerve, signs like discomfort and pain of a small cavity in your tooth may be subtle or absent completely. 2 in 5 children have at least one cavity by the time they go to kindergarten, and these signs are a good indication that your child may have one.

  • Toothache
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Pain when biting down
  • Visible hole in the tooth
  • Brown, black, or white stains on the surface of the tooth
  • Mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking something hot, cold, or sweet

You may be left wondering; can a small cavity go away? Waiting for the cavity to grow deeper into the nerve is risky.

If you do suspect your child has a small cavity in their tooth, get in touch with a pediatric dentist for a check-up.

Common Cavity Types

Cavities can form all around the teeth but you can help protect your teeth and gums with regular oral hygiene. Consult a dentist for treatment options. There are 3 common types of cavities;

  • Smooth surface cavities: These types of cavities form on the outer flat surfaces of the teeth when food particles aren’t removed properly. A smooth surface cavity will progress slowly and can be treatable if caught early on.
  • Pit and fissure cavities: These types of cavities occur on chewing surfaces and are commonly found on molars (back teeth). When you are inconsistent with oral hygiene and proper brushing habits, food particles and plaque will stick to these indentations and grooves causing small cavities to build up in your teeth.
  • Root cavities: These are commonly found in older adults with receding gums. When tooth roots are exposed from recession and decay forms you will feel pain, discomfort, or sensitivity.

Prevention Is Key

female dentist showing the right way to clean teeth


  • Brush thoroughly in soft, circular movements at least twice a day for 2 minutes with fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss between your teeth once a day (preferably before bed)
  • Replace your whole family’s toothbrush at least every three months. Frayed brushes are ineffective and can retain harmful bacteria. Small cavities in your teeth can develop as a result
  • Don’t assume that a small cavity can just go away. Visit the dentist at least twice a year for teeth cleaning procedures and examinations as well as your peace of mind
  • Begin children’s visits before their first birthday, and when they start to get their baby teeth
  • Ask your dentist about preventive resin or sealants as preventive measures
  • Use supplemental fluoride treatments to strengthen your teeth such as a mouth rinse
  • Encourage your family to lower sugar and acidic food intakes, eat healthy, balanced meals and limit snacking

Small Cavity Treatment Options

Small cavities can easily be prevented and most will not progress if you take the proper precautions. A small cavity in your tooth still requires treatment, though it can depend on the severity. We typically recommend the following;

  • Fluoride treatments, such as prescribed enamel-protecting toothpastes and rinses.
  • Preventive dental sealants – a tooth-colored plastic coating applied to the chewing surface of the tooth to prevent decay. It bonds quickly to indentations and grooves to form a protective shield over the enamel.
  • Tooth-colored fillings are practically invisible and may also be used in conjunction with a dental sealant to provide extra cavity protection. Yes, even small cavities can reach dentin, and when they do, fluoride won’t do the trick!

We Value Your Oral Care

Need quality dental for your whole family or even just a second opinion? Contact us today for a full comprehensive range of services in Reno. Your teeth need your care for a lifelong healthy smile, so let’s protect them together!