Cavities are small holes in the teeth caused by decay. Several home remedies can prevent this decay or stop it before it forms a cavity.

Food and bacteria buildup form a sticky film on the teeth’s surface and along the gumline. The term for this is “plaque.”

When a person eats, the bacteria in the plaque produce acids that can lead to cavities. Streptococcus mutans is a type of bacteria that plays a role in this decay.

If a person or dentist does not remove plaque, it will:

  • cause tooth decay and gum infections (gingivitis)
  • destroy the bone supporting the teeth
  • lead to tartar formation

Plaque builds up more easily in places such as:

  • cracks, pits, and grooves in the teeth
  • between the teeth
  • around any fillings, particularly when they are chipped or broken
  • close to the gum line

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Cavities, also called tooth decay and caries, are holes in teeth. They happen when acids break down the teeth’s hard surface.

Tooth decay starts at the tooth’s surface and outer layer, called the enamel. Over time, it reaches the tooth’s inner layer, called the dentin. At this point, a cavity begins to develop.

During the first stage, the tooth loses minerals (demineralization), which shows as white spots. This is when decay has damaged the tooth’s enamel but has not yet reached the dentin. However, once the decay advances and reaches the dentin, the teeth must undergo professional treatment.

Pre-cavityCavity
damaged enameldamaged enamel and dentin
reversibleirreversible
no holes but may have visible white spotspresence of holes
usually not painfulpainful

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dental cavities are the most common noncommunicable disease in the world. In America, 1 in 4 adults lives with untreated tooth decay.

Cavities require professional treatment by dentists.

However, several home remedies can strengthen tooth enamel to reverse early demineralization and prevent tooth decay. This process is known as remineralization, which prevents a cavity from forming.

Good oral hygiene like regular brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings with a dentist can prevent and reverse cavities.

Using fluoride is a tried and tested way to prevent decay and cavities. High-fluoride toothpaste or direct fluoride application helps remineralize the tooth enamel and prevent cavities.

Results from a 2018 study indicate that high fluoride toothpaste more effectively prevents caries than toothpaste containing low fluoride.

A 2020 review also found that sodium fluoride mouth rinse is the most effective method among the self-applied fluoride methods reviewed in the study.

U.S. cities and towns also recognize the importance of fluoride. Many cities have embraced community water fluoridation for over 75 years. This is the most cost-effective strategy that has reduced tooth decay by 25 percent in children and adults.

However, some people may prefer natural home remedies over products containing fluoride. Here are some home remedies to prevent tooth cavities.

1. Oil pulling

Oil pulling originated in an ancient system of alternative medicine called Ayurveda. It involves swishing a tablespoon of sesame or coconut oil around the mouth for around 20 minutes, then spitting it out.

While some claims about oil pulling are not scientifically validated, research indicates that it can improve tooth health. A 2017 review noted that it reduces the bacteria in the mouth, plaque, and inflammation in the gums.

A 2020 review indicated oil pulling with coconut oil might help improve dental health and oral hygiene. However, researchers noted further studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of the practice.

2. Aloe vera

Aloe vera tooth gel may help fight off bacteria that cause cavities. The antibacterial effect of this gel prevents the buildup of bacteria in the mouth, according to a 2019 study.

A 2017 study found the use of aloe vera with tea tree oil as an effective cavity disinfectant, with comparable results to traditional disinfectants called chlorhexidine.

While more research is needed, aloe vera’s antibacterial properties may help reduce dental cavities by reducing harmful bacteria in the mouth.

3. Avoid phytic acid

Some people think that phytic acid, considered an antinutrient, contributes to tooth decay because it hinders the absorption of many minerals and their bioavailability. This includes minerals like iron, zinc, and calcium.

Some believe that cutting it out of the diet can prevent tooth decay and cavities. Phytic acid is most commonly found in cereals and legumes, including the following:

  • maize
  • wheat
  • rice
  • rye
  • kidney beans
  • haricot beans
  • pinto beans
  • navy beans
  • blackeye beans
  • broad beans

However, food industries have taken measures to reduce their phytic acid content to enhance the bioavailability of micronutrients in food grains, per research published in 2015.

While phytic acid’s antinutrient properties are proven by science, there is no research regarding its effects on the minerals in tooth enamel.

4. Vitamins and minerals

Minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium make up the structure of our teeth. Vitamin D is crucial in:

  • forming healthy teeth
  • protecting against dental caries
  • releasing calcium in the saliva to mineralize teeth enamel

A 2020 article indicated that having inadequate minerals can lead to absorption problems, increased tendency to bleed, and tooth loss.

Vitamin D is also crucial in oral health. It delays the onset and progression of dental cavities. A 2021 study found that children with dental caries have less vitamin D levels in their blood and low calcium levels in their saliva.

In addition, taking vitamin D without magnesium leads to a soft enamel, which cannot resist the acids in the mouth, resulting in tooth decay.

5. Avoid sugary foods and drinks

Diet, especially the consumption of free sugars, is among the leading causes of cavities. Sugar mixes with bacteria in the mouth and forms an acid, which wears down tooth enamel.

The WHO recommends people limit their intake of free sugars. Aside from the amount, a 2017 study found that consuming free sugars before bedtime increases the risk of dental caries.

6. Eat licorice root

Licorice root has antibacterial properties that can target S. mutans, the bacteria causing cavities.

A 2019 study found that the antibacterial properties of licorice root extract are comparable to a chlorhexidine mouthwash and more potent than a fluoride mouthwash.

A 2021 study made a similar comparison and found that licorice extract has antimicrobial properties.

Learn more about the benefits of licorice root here.

7. Sugar-free gum

Results of a 2015 study indicate that chewing sugar-free gum after meals reduced levels of bacteria that damage enamel.

Having less of this bacteria may lead to stronger enamel that is better equipped to withstand decay.

8. Eggshell

Eggshells contain calcium that a person can use to help remineralize the tooth enamel. It can also serve as an abrasive cleaner to remove plaques. A 2018 study on modified eggshell with titanium oxide composite protects teeth against acidic substances.

A person can prevent cavities and tooth decay with proper oral hygiene and regularly brushing with a high fluoride toothpaste.

Limiting sugar intake and visiting the dentist regularly can also help spot pre-cavities. It is also possible to prevent a cavity using home remedies when decay is at the pre-cavity stage.

Home remedies may reduce the risk of cavities or reverse damage to the enamel in the pre-cavity stage. Since not all cavities cause pain, it is essential to see a dentist regularly.

Dentists can detect cavities at an early stage and can recommend preventive measures. They may also provide a filling, sealant, crown, or other treatments for advanced cases of decay.

Home remedies should be used alongside dentist-recommended techniques, such as brushing, preferably with a high fluoride toothpaste.

Tooth decay and cavities are common dental concerns that good dental hygiene and oral health can prevent. Aside from these, home remedies may help reverse or prevent cavities from occurring.