Are you worried you might have a cavity? Cavities, or tooth decay, are a common problem that can lead to pain, tooth loss, and even serious infections if left untreated.
But did you know signs of cavities can show up in a variety of ways? There are many different symptoms of active tooth decay, including:
- Tooth sensitivity
- Visible signs of decay such as holes
- Tooth pain
- Bad breath
The sooner you detect a cavity, the easier it will be to treat. Recognizing the warning signs early on could mean the difference between a small filling and a more complicated procedure like a crown or root canal.
How Do Cavities Form?
Cavities are caused by bacteria in your mouth eating away at your tooth enamel and dentin (the layer underneath the enamel). When these bacteria consume sugars and carbs, they produce acid as a byproduct, which can erode your enamel over time.
If left untreated, cavities can cause pain, infections, and even tooth loss. The good news is that cavities are both preventable and treatable.
By practicing good oral hygiene and visiting the dentist regularly, you can keep your teeth healthy and cavity-free.
Pay Attention to Tooth Sensitivity
If you experience sensitivity to hot or cold drinks or foods, this could be a sign of a cavity. Cavities can cause the dentin of your tooth to become exposed. When the dentin is exposed, it can be sensitive to temperature changes and other stimuli.
If you notice sensitivity in one or more of your teeth, it’s a good idea to see a dentist to rule out the possibility of a cavity.
Look for Visible Signs of Decay
One of the most obvious signs of a cavity is a visible hole or dark spot on your tooth. Cavities usually start small and get bigger over time, so the earlier you catch them, the easier they will be to treat.
If you see a visible hole or dark spot on your tooth, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible.
Watch Out for Pain when Biting or Chewing
If you have a cavity, you might have trouble biting down without feeling a sharp, shocking pain. Or, you might find it difficult to brush or floss certain areas because they’re too sensitive.
This is usually because the cavity has exposed the dentin, causing irritation to the inner nerve of the tooth.
Check for Bad Breath
Cavities can cause an unpleasant smell or taste in your mouth. As your tooth decays, bacteria spreads and penetrates the tooth, leading to bad breath (also known as halitosis).
This is the same bacteria that’s causing the cavity in the first place. If there’s enough bacteria in your mouth to create a cavity, chances are you’ll also have bad breath.
How to Prevent Cavities
Here are some tips on how to prevent cavities:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride helps to strengthen the enamel on your teeth and makes them more resistant to decay.
- Floss daily. Flossing helps to remove food particles and plaque from between your teeth and along the gum line, which can help prevent cavities.
- Use mouthwash. Mouthwash can help to kill bacteria in your mouth and freshen your breath.
- Drink plenty of water. Water helps to rinse away food particles and bacteria from your mouth, which can help to prevent cavities.
- Eat a balanced diet. A diet that is high in sugar and refined carbs can increase your risk of cavities. Instead, choose healthier foods such as dark leafy green vegetables, which can help strengthen your teeth.
- Limit your intake of sugary drinks and snacks. Soda, fruit juices, and candy can all contribute to cavities. If you do have sugary foods, try to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with water afterward.
- Visit the dentist regularly. Regular dental checkups can help detect any problems early on before they turn into cavities.
Get Regular Dental Checkups
You may not notice any signs or symptoms when early-stage cavities start to form, such as pain, discomfort, or visible changes in your tooth.
That’s where regular dental checkups and cleanings come in handy. These appointments allow your dentist to identify and treat tooth decay in its early stages before it becomes more severe and causes pain or other symptoms.
If left untreated, cavities can cause extensive damage to your teeth and lead to other painful problems. It’s important to maintain good oral hygiene and see your dentist every 6 months to prevent cavities and maintain the health of your teeth.
If you think you’re experiencing the signs of a cavity, or if you’re due for a dental checkup, book an appointment with the team at One Family Dental.