Dental cavities are formed when sugar on the surface of your teeth decays into acid, and this acid is capable of boring through the hard outer surface of your teeth, called the enamel. Once the acid reaches the softer part of the tooth beneath the enamel, known as the dentin, a cavity forms and has to be dealt with by your dentist. If you've wondered about how to stop tooth decay from spreading, there isn't much you can do on your own, and you'll have to contact your dentist right away to make sure that no further damage occurs.
You might also have wondered to yourself, "What does a cavity look like?" Cavities are tiny holes which are usually visible to the naked eye, and which form on the surface of your teeth. You will probably feel the effects of a cavity more certainly than you'll be able to see them however, because once the enamel has been compromised, your teeth will be much more sensitive to feeling hot and cold foods and beverages, and you may also experience some level of pain or discomfort once you've developed a cavity in your mouth.
There are some risk factors which increase the likelihood that you will develop cavities in your mouth, which most dentists are well aware of, and caution their patients about. This will include eating sugary foods like candy and other sweets, frequent snacking, improper brushing and flossing, and persistent dry mouth which prevents oral cleansing. Once a cavity has already formed in your mouth, there's nothing you'll be able to do at home to eliminate it. However, you can take some steps which will minimize your exposure to cavities developing, and which will provide you the best opportunity to prevent tooth decay.
No one really wants to hear this, but cutting out all the sugar from your diet is the single best thing you can do to prevent cavities. Of course, no one can completely eliminate sugar from their diets, but if you can keep it down to no more than 10% of your total caloric intake, that should be sufficient to minimize your risk of tooth decay. When you do ingest something really sugary, you can help yourself a great deal by brushing soon afterward, so that the material doesn't stick to your teeth and begin to decay.
Fluoride may be the best defense you can use against the development of tooth decay and cavities. That's because fluoride leaves an invisible barrier on your teeth which makes it difficult for acids to form and attack the enamel of your teeth. Fluorides also help to re-mineralize the enamel, so that it can retain its normal strength and resistance to decay.
Vitamin D is crucial to the absorption of calcium and phosphate from foods which you ingest. If you routinely consume foods rich in vitamin D, you can go a long way toward preventing cavities and tooth decay. You'll find vitamin D in a number of dairy products such as yogurt and milk, and your body can also absorb vitamin D simply by being in the sun and absorbing the sun's rays.
If you have the habit of chewing gum, make sure to use a brand which contains no sugar. Sugar-free gum also helps to re-mineralize the enamel of your teeth, and some sugar-free gums also help to stimulate saliva flow and reduce the level of acids which are normally found on tooth enamel. By chewing gums which contain sugar, you'll be exposing your teeth to a prolonged period of an acid-forming processes, which will then eat away at your tooth enamel.