Can Cavities be Reversed? – Answer is Both Yes & No

When you get to know from your dentist that you are developing cavities, the very first question to pop up in your mind is, ‘Can cavities be reversed?’. Yes, the initial carious lesions or decay is reversible and can be prevented from further progress. However, if you ignore the early detected carious lesion, then they can damage the tooth structure to a great extent over the time. As a result, you cannot rebuild or reverse such tooth decay.

Tooth decay is the most common dental illness which occurs due to the acid produced by oral bacteria. The acid leads to a loss of minerals from the tooth surface and initiates the tooth decay. But with the help of the preventive measures, such as good oral hygiene practice, use of sugar-free gums, fluoride, coconut oil pulling, etc., you can prevent the development or progress of tooth decay.


What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay is the damage to the tooth caused due to demineralization of enamel which happens over time. The three factors responsible for tooth decay are –

  • Saliva
  • Bacteria
  • Diet

The incidence of caries formation depends on how frequently these three factors make a perfect storm for the development of caries.

Plaque forms when the food debris combines with the certain protein from your saliva. It also acts as the home for bacterial production and multiplication.

Whenever we consume food rich in sugar and carbohydrate, bacteria use them to produce acid. The acid then attacks the tooth surface and leads to tooth decay by demineralizing the tooth enamel.

Can we reverse the tooth decay?

The initial tooth decay is reversible damage and can be rebuilt by the natural replenishing tendency of the enamel.

Enamel has the natural tendency to repair itself by using minerals in saliva, fluoroid in toothpaste and other sources.

But if there is large cavity formation or irreversible damage, then the tooth decay cannot be reversed. In such cases, we can restore the damaged enamel with a dental filling.

Tooth remineralization

Calcium phosphate also called as ‘hydroxyapatite’ is the key content of enamel. Tooth remineralization process helps to add the mineral, especially calcium to the tooth.

These added mineral binds with the tooth surface and increases the strength of the tooth. Thus, you can prevent the decay process by taking proper oral care or by promoting tooth remineralization.

Dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinse rich in calcium and fluoride help to regain the mineral lost due to acid attack.

Remineralizing products thus prevent the damage to teeth and helps to remineralize teeth.

What prevention should you take to prevent tooth decay?

Preventing tooth from decay can take away all your stress related to a decayed tooth. Following are some preventive measure for caries free oral cavity.

1. Brush-floss-rinse and repeat

Brush-floss-rinse and repeat – This basic oral hygiene regimen can prevent you from most of the dental issues.

Brushing twice a day for an adequate time helps to dislodge the plaque and debris from the tooth surface.

Flossing once in a day helps to remove the plaque and debris in between the teeth. Whereas, mouth rinsing clean your mouth by removing the plaque and food particles.

In the end, the basic oral hygiene regimen keep your tooth clean and prevent the acid attack by indirectly building the protective wall around the teeth.

Hence, every time you follow the basic oral hygiene regimen, you stop the bacteria from creating a decay process.

2. Chew sugar-free gums

Sugar-free gums stimulate the salivary glands and increase the production of saliva. Saliva washes off your oral cavity and helps to keep it clean and germ-free, thereby reduce the chance of tooth decay. (1)

Also, the xylitol content of sugar-free gum does not allow the bacteria to grow and limit its production. Now you can get caries free cavity by chewing sugar-free gums. (2)

3. Change diet habits

Nutritious diet contributes a lot to oral health. Diet rich in nutritional values helps to prevent the tooth decay by remineralization of the tooth (3).

You need to follow some diet rules to avoid the chances of caries. Here is the checklist for diet habit –

  • Consume a diet rich in minerals like leafy green vegetables, almond, and avocado.
  • Eat more fat-soluble vitamin from food like carrots, sweet potato, olive oil, etc.
  • Limit the consumption of starch, processed carbohydrate and phytic acid.
  • Say no to sugar.
  • Avoid drinking the beverages which are rich in carbonation and sugar.
  • Eat more dairy products such as milk, cream, yogurt, cheese, etc. to get more calcium.
  • Consume more fibrous food.

4. Use fluoride

Fluoride minimizes the chances of tooth decay to a great extent. It prevents the loss of minerals from the tooth and replaces the missing enamel.

Also, it reduces the ability of bacteria to make the acid and protects the enamel. (4) You can get more of fluoride through water, toothpaste, mouthwash, and other sources.

5. Coconut oil pulling

Using coconut oil pulling is one of the most tried and effective ways to prevent the tooth from decay. Coconut oil pulls out the bacteria out of your tooth and makes you tooth surface heal naturally. (5)

To practice oil pulling, swish the 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in the mouth for 20 minutes and then spit it out. Do it twice a day for effective results.

6. Visit a dentist regularly

Regular dental follow-ups are necessary for professional cleaning, early detection of caries and some extensive treatments.

Your dentist is the best person who can suggest you on a path forward if there is a development of cavities or caries in your oral cavity. The extent of tooth decay will decide drilling or natural remineralization process.

Also, a dentist will give you prescribed mouthwash and toothpaste to prevent the chances of caries.

Your dentist can also suggest you the application of sealants on premolar are molars for caries prevention. (6)

Professional dental cleaning is essential to minimize the chances of tooth decay. No matter how much you care for the oral cavity, there will always be an area that is hard to reach.

Professional cleaning helps to clean such inaccessible areas in the oral cavity and prevents the tooth from decay.


The extensive cavity in a tooth means permanent damage. This condition can only be repaired by a dentist.

The dentist will fill the cavity by filling material to avoid the further progress of caries. Hence, regular dental visits are necessary for healthy teeth.

Final words

The natural healing mechanism of enamel can reverse the tooth decay. However, extensive cavitation needs professional dental treatment.

You can say that not every decayed tooth needs drilling and filling. In fact, you can save yourself from the fear of getting your tooth drilled by promoting the process of natural remineralization of the tooth.


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