How Much Do You Know About Cavities?

Most of you probably think there is not much more to know about cavities other than that they’re caused by eating too much sugar, they are a black hole in your tooth, they hurt, and you have to have them filled. But there is plenty more to know about tooth decay than that. Take our true and false quiz below to find out how much you know about cavities.

True or False?

  1. True or False: Sugar is the only thing that causes cavities.
  2. True or False: Kids get more cavities than adults.
  3. True or False: You can get rid of a toothache by putting an aspirin near it on your gum.
  4. True or False: You always know when you have a cavity.
  5. True or False: If you have a chip or crack in your tooth it is a prime spot for a cavity.
  6. True or False: Gaps in your teeth can also lead to cavities.  
  7. True or False: You are more likely to get decay in between your teeth.
  8. True or False: Bruxism, or the habit of clenching and grinding, can cause dental caries.
  9. True or False:  Medications can cause cavities.
  10. True or False: Some people have weak enamel.


  1. False: Any carbohydrates such as rice, bread, potatoes, fruits, or vegetables that break down into sugar can cause cavities. Cavities are actually caused by acids produced by harmful bacteria that feed on sugars and starches leftover from the foods and beverages you consume.
  2. False: Over the past 20 years, tooth decay in school-aged children has been reduced by 50 percent due to fluoridated municipal drinking water.  Conversely, cavities are on the rise in seniors due to medicines that reduce saliva and cause dry mouth. Saliva helps protect your teeth by remineralizing tooth enamel.
  3. False: The only way aspirin will relieve tooth pain is if you swallow it. Because aspirin is acidic, placing it on your gum can burn your gingival tissue resulting in a painful abscess.
  4. False: You can have cavities without knowing it. That’s why dental checkups and x-rays are important. By the time you know you have a cavity, it is usually large and may require more than just a filling.
  5. True: Any crevice can collect bacterial plaque which is sticky and difficult to remove, especially if your toothbrush can’t reach into it. This can lead to decay. Rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash can help wash away bacteria from these areas.
  6. False: Big gaps and wide areas are little concern for decay. Food cannot hide in gaps and your toothbrush can reach it. Food can get stuck in smaller spaces, however, and if not removed can cause decay.
  7. True: Decay is more likely to occur between your teeth because food can get stuck there and your toothbrush may not be able to reach it. That’s why flossing and rinsing with a mouthwash are important.
  8. False:  Clenching and grinding in itself cannot cause tooth decay, but the results of clenching and grinding can. Bruxing puts so much undue pressure on your teeth that it can lead to chips, cracks, or fractures which are prime areas for decay.  
  9. True:  Side affects from medications that seniors take can cause dental problems including cavities. Allergy medications will also affect dental health. Mainly because they often cause dry mouth.
  10. True: There are studies that show that there is a small genetic link for softer enamel.

Little-Known Facts About Cavities 

  • The average American will spend nearly 40 total days brushing their teeth over a lifetime.
  • If you are drinking three or more sports drinks or glasses of soda per day, you are statistically 62 percent more likely to develop tooth decay, fillings, and other dental problems than individuals who abstain from sugary drinks. The lesson? Replace that glass of Coke with a glass of water.
  • Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your body, but it’s not indestructible. 
  • Some populations seem to be more immune from cavities than others.
  • Brushing can only cover around 60 percent of the surface of your teeth. If you’re not flossing, you’re missing as much as 40 percent of your tooth surface!
  • The average person brushes for around one minute per day. Dentists recommend that two to three minutes of careful brushing is completed every day.
  • The vast majority (78 percent) of people will develop a cavity by age 17. This is partly due to the high prevalence of decay among children. 

Cavity Statistics From the Centers for Disease Control

The following facts and figures were published by the Centers for Disease Control.

  • Nearly half of children and teenagers ages 2 to 19 have a treated or untreated decay .
  • The prevalence of dental decay is lower among higher-income individuals.
  • Dental caries are the most common chronic disease among children and teenagers
  • Untreated decay can cause infections and pain.
  • Around 19 percent of individuals who live below the federal poverty level have cavities compared with only 7 percent of individuals who have incomes greater than 300 percent of the poverty level.

Cavity Symptoms and Treatment Options

How often should you see your dentist? The early signs of developing cavities can be found by Dr. Fondriest during your twice-a-year cleaning and exam. Children and adults benefit from dental fluoride treatments. Often, patients notice the signs of dental caries. The small pits on the surface of the teeth are often visible. Cavities also cause individuals to experience increased sensitivity to hot and cold. As the decay becomes more pronounced, individuals with a decay may experience pain. It is possible to have an advanced cavity without experiencing pain, which is one reason why regular dental visits are so important. 

Once Dr. Fondriest removes the infection and decayed tissue, he will fill the cavity with natural looking dental fillings. In some cases, he may be able to use a special gel to repair a cavity without needing to remove any of your natural tooth structure. If you have experienced advanced decay, Dr. Fondriest may recommend a dental crown or root canal therapy to preserve as much of your natural tooth as possible. Of course it is better to prevent cavities in the first place. If your dentist finds decay, then early treatment is best.

About Your Lake Forest Dentist:

Aside from providing dependable general and restorative dentistry services to our community, Dr. James Fondriest also holds respected academic appointments at the Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, FL, and the Spear Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, and he is a former adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of Florida Dental School. 

At Lake Forest Dental Arts, Dr. Fondriest combines his impressive array of experience with modern technology and caring, compassionate, knowledgeable staff, and we proudly serve patients from Chicago and all surrounding communities. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.