3 Types of Cavities We Deal With The Most in Tampa

June 18, 2024

Ouch! Ever taken a bite of something delicious, only to be met with a sharp pain that lingers for ages? Those unwelcome twinges are often a sign of cavity trouble. Cavities, known as tooth decay (caries), are holes that form in the hard surface of your teeth, and can put a damper on enjoying your favorite food and drinks. While all cavities may look alike, did you know that there’s actually 3 types of cavities, each with their own favorite hiding spot, distinctions, causes, and treatment?

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1. Pit & Fissure Cavities – A Crevice Culprit.

Imagine your rear molar teeth as a miniature mountain range, with peaks and valleys etched into their surfaces. In these grooves, plaque and food particles can easily get trapped, leading you to develop a type of cavity called a pit or fissure cavity. These types of cavities can be challenging to detect in their early stages, as they’re tightly tucked into the grooves, making them easy to miss.


  • Poor oral hygiene habits – not brushing the surfaces of the molars well – leading to plaque buildup in the pits and fissures.
  • Consuming sugary or acidic foods and drinks all the time.

If this type of cavity is found early on, it can be treated with a dental sealant or fluoride treatment which can help remineralize the tooth. But in more advanced cases, our dentist will need to remove the tooth decay by drilling it out, and then repair the tooth with fillings, root canals, or crowns.

2. Smooth Surface Cavities – The Stealthy Intruders.

As the name suggests, these types of cavities form on the flat, exterior surfaces of your teeth, typically on the sides of the mouth. They are notorious for their slow-growing nature, making them one of the least common types of cavity encountered in Tampa. In some cases, this type of cavity can develop between the teeth, known as an interproximal cavity, which are detected with dental x-rays and do require removal and fillings.


  • Poor dental hygiene, such as inadequate brushing and flossing, provides the perfect environment for these types of cavities to thrive and eventually breach the tooth’s enamel.
  • Other causes are snacking on sugary drinks and food, and letting plaque buildup on the surfaces of the teeth or between the teeth.

Due to their slow progression, these types of cavity can be resolved with fluoride treatments (gels, toothpastes, varnish, or fluoride-enriched water), but if it does break the enamel surface, a filling is required.

3. Root Cavities – The Age-related Adversaries.

As we age, our gums can recede exposing the roots of our teeth and exposing the roots of the teeth to the harsh oral environment. While the roots of our teeth are coated in a soft, thin layer of a substance called cementum, it’s no match for the erosive acids found in our diet or the relentless attack of bacteria. As a result, this type of cavity can progress at an alarming pace, and needs prompt treatment to prevent it from causing significant damage.


  • Gum disease or receding gums that expose the roots of your teeth.
  • Poor oral hygiene that allows plaque and bacteria to accumulate on the exposed roots.

To treat root cavities, the decayed tooth material must be drilled out and the cavity filled-in. If the decay has spread to the pulp of the tooth, root canal therapy and a crown is recommended to restore the tooth. In cases where gum disease or receding gums are present, additional treatments may include scaling and root planing, gum grafting, and antibiotics to fight infection.

Preventing These Types of Cavities?

All types of cavities are highly preventable despite being a common dental issue that most of us experience. Here at Tampa Palms Dentistry, we recommend the following strategies to help reduce your risk of developing cavities:

  • Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily.
  • Limit your consumption of sugary and acidic foods and drinks.
  • Maintain regular dental check-ups and cleanings.
  • Consider dental sealants for children and adults at high risk for cavities.

If you suspect you may have a cavity or are experiencing tooth pain, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our experienced dental team by giving us a call at: (813) 333-1922 or use our online appointment booking here.

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