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Cavities Between Your Teeth: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

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Cavities Between Teeth: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Cavities Between Teeth: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

A cavity between your teeth (also known as an "interproximal cavity") is caused by bacteria adhering between teeth and causing decay, in much the same way as any other cavity. Although many people are diligent about brushing their teeth, most people fail to adequately or frequently floss, which leads to a high prevalence of cavities.

Usually, you won't know you have a cavity between your teeth until you discover sensitivity to foods and drinks that are hot or cold. Due to pain or discomfort in the area, you might also find it difficult to chew your food. Nowadays, laser technology makes it simple to find interproximal decay. Your dentist will therefore be able to determine whether you have a cavity between your teeth.


Filling a cavity between teeth is a relatively painless procedure. Your teeth, gums, and jaw will be numbed by a local anesthetic administered by your dentist (such as lidocaine, benzocaine, or epinephrine). These substances prevent nerves from transmitting any pain signals from your mouth to your brain, so when the dentist begins to drill, it won't hurt.

Your dentist will then use a dental tool to remove the decayed portion of the tooth to fill the gap between your teeth. The cavity is cleaned to make room for a filling after the entire decayed portion of the tooth has been removed.

After an interproximal cavity has been treated, any residual sensitivity should disappear in two to four weeks. Contact your dentist if the sensitivity doesn't seem to improve after four weeks or if it persists longer.

Prevention Tips

Further interproximal cavities may be prevented by following some proper dental hygiene practices as well as eating a tooth-friendly diet.

1. Brush Your Teeth Properly

After eating, always brush correctly using fluoride toothpaste. Make sure they are cleaned thoroughly. Examine each tooth's surface with your tongue. You've done a good job brushing if your teeth feel completely smooth. You should brush those areas again if they still feel a bit rough.

2. Always Floss Your Teeth

Focus especially on flossing between your teeth. Regular use of dental floss or a floss substitute (such as a Water Pik) can help you prevent the development of interproximal cavities. Food debris, plaque, and bacteria that accumulate in the tiny spaces between the teeth may be too small to be removed by regular brushing alone. Because of this, the American Dental Association strongly advises interdental cleaning.

3. Visit Your Dentist Regularly

A thorough dental exam is the most effective way to determine your likelihood of developing a cavity between your teeth. You can find out where you stand, which treatments might be required, and which dietary and oral hygiene changes might be beneficial. You can do this with routine dental exams and consultations with your dentist. Knowing your risk level allows you to improve your oral health in a more targeted, efficient manner.

4. Consider Dental Sealants

Cavities can sometimes be prevented by using dental sealants, which are thin coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars). Sealants shield the chewing surfaces from cavities by encasing them in a barrier that keeps food and germs out. Ask your dentist if a dental sealant is appropriate for you, especially if you have a high risk of developing an interproximal cavity.

5. Drink Fluoride-Treated Water

Most water contains some fluoride, which can be beneficial but is typically insufficient to completely prevent cavities. Plain tap water, however, does help to naturally wash away unwanted food particles and sugar that stick between teeth after eating. While drinking water all day long is also crucial to keep the teeth clean and prevent cavities, rinsing with water after meals is also a beneficial cavity-prevention technique.

6. Consider Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride treatments are normally professional procedures carried out on a patient's teeth by a dentist or dental hygienist. These procedures enhance oral health and reduce the risk of all types of cavities. These in-office procedures could come in the form of a varnish, gel, solution, or foam.

7. Avoid Too Much Sugar

Many of the foods we eat contain natural sugar, but your teeth might not be able to handle the added sugar found in desserts and snacks. As your teeth deteriorate as a result of the damaging bacteria in sweets and treats, your risk of developing cavities between your teeth increases significantly. Instead, eating "tooth-friendly" foods is highly encouraged.

8. Eat Tooth-Friendly Foods

Foods high in fiber, according to the American Dental Association, help keep your teeth and gums clean. They stimulate saliva production, which is your body's most effective natural defense against tooth decay and gum disease. Saliva replenishes minerals in areas of teeth that have lost them because it contains minute amounts of calcium and phosphate.

All dairy products, including cheese, milk, and plain yogurt, are healthy for teeth. The calcium and phosphate in cheese help restore minerals that other foods may have stripped from your teeth. They also replenish tooth enamel and give the mouth nutrients.

Polyphenols, which are found in some teas, can either kill or restrain bacteria. This stops bacteria from multiplying or producing acid that damages teeth. Tea can also be a source of fluoride, depending on the type of water you use to brew it.

Dental floss can help prevent the development of interproximal cavities

Dental floss can help prevent the development of interproximal cavities


A cavity between the teeth is generally caused by bacteria getting stuck halfway and causing decay. You may have an interproximal cavity if you notice unusual sensitivity to hot or cold foods or beverages. Your dentist will confirm and treat this by administering a filling; it is generally a painless process, and any lingering sensitivity should go away in two to four weeks. If the sensitivity doesn't seem to be getting better after four weeks, or if it lasts longer, call your dentist. Remember to eat a diet that is kind to your teeth and practice good dental hygiene to prevent further interproximal cavities.

Sources and Further Reading

  • Tooth Decay - Wikipedia
    Lasers for detecting caries allow detection without ionizing radiation and are now used for detection of interproximal decay (between the teeth).

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2022 Louise