6 Signs You Might Have a Cavity Blog Image

6 Signs You Might Have a Cavity

It is estimated that over 90% of American adults have had a cavity at some point in their life. It is also estimated that over 30% currently have a cavity that is untreated. Cavities left untreated can damage or destroy your teeth or cause more serious dental and health issues. Seeing your dentist as soon as possible is the best way to prevent further damage to your teeth so your Dentist of Torrance team wants you to know the signs to look for if you may have a cavity.

What is a Cavity?

Simply put, a cavity is a hole in your tooth. Cavities form when food and bacteria build up on your teeth and create plaque. The bacteria in plaque release acids that break down your teeth and erode the protective outer enamel coating. If plaque continues to build up it can eat away at your tooth until a hole is formed.

Why Do Cavities Need to Be Treated?

An untreated cavity can destroy your tooth. If a cavity becomes too big the tooth may not be able to be saved and must be extracted. If left untreated, a cavity can also create more serious complications. Abscesses and infections in your bloodstream are two of the serious problems that can develop. Seeing your dentist to treat your cavity prevents further damage and serious problems from arising.

What are the Signs I May Have a Cavity?

There are six early warning signs of cavities. Paying attention to these signs in yourself and your family can help you to identify when you may have a problem between your regular dental office visits.

1. Sensitivity to Hot, Cold, or Sweet

As a cavity creates a hole in your tooth it exposes the porous under layer called dentin. When there is not enough of the hard outer layer of enamel to protect the dentin, the nerves located inside may become over stimulated by hot, cold, or sweet foods or drinks. If you notice that your teeth are newly more sensitive than before, or that particularly one or two teeth are very sensitive it may be a sign that you have a cavity.

2. Toothache or Pain

If you have ever experienced a toothache, then you know it isn’t pleasant. You may have a cavity if you have a spontaneous toothache that seems to just show up. This may happen suddenly with no warning, or it may occur when you eat. Another indicator of a cavity may be that the toothache feels isolated to one or two teeth and continues to occur in only that area. You may also notice pain when biting or putting pressure on your teeth. This is also caused by the exposed dentin and the affected nerves within your tooth. Pain is typically one of the most common symptoms of a cavity.

3. Tooth Staining

Cavities can cause teeth to have discolorations as the bacteria in plaque eat away at your tooth enamel. Many cavities start out as white discolorations on the tooth but may later change to brown or black stains. These stains cannot be removed by brushing or flossing. You may notice them change color or grow larger if left untreated. This is a sign that your cavity is getting worse. Noticing a stain on your tooth can be an early indicator of a cavity and is a good time to see your dentist before things get any worse.

4. Holes or Pits in Tooth Surface

Since a cavity is a hole, you may notice that you have one if you see a hole or pit on the surface of your tooth. As the bacteria in plaque wear away at your teeth the tooth surfaces dissolve and disappear leaving you with a hole in your tooth. The hole is often accompanied by brown or black staining and does not go away with brushing or flossing. You may be able to see the hole with a mirror or even feel it when you run your tongue over your teeth. Some cavities that form between teeth cannot be seen or felt. If you see a hole in your tooth, it is a sure sign of a cavity and you should see your dentist as soon as you can.

5. Bad Breath

Bad breath can be a sign of many oral health problems, including cavities. Because cavities create a hole in your tooth they also create an inviting space for stray food particles and bacteria to gather. When left alone the food particles and bacteria will create a persistent bad odor or taste that you can’t seem to get rid of.

6. Bleeding or Swollen Gums

Cavities don’t just affect your teeth. When a cavity forms near your gum line it can affect the soft gum tissues near it. This can especially be seen when flossing or brushing. Gums may look red or swollen or may bleed when you brush or floss. This problem is more prevalent in adults as the gums tend to recede from teeth with age and make more space for plaque and bacteria to develop near the gum line.

How Can I Prevent Cavities?

The best way to prevent cavities is with a good oral health routine. Brushing twice a day for at least two minutes and flossing regularly help to remove food particles and bacteria from your teeth which stops plaque from developing. You should also make sure you visit your Dentist of Torrance office every six months for a regular checkup and cleaning. This way your dentist can catch any early signs of cavities and begin treatment right away. Lastly, make sure your diet promotes good oral health. Sticky, hard, and sugary foods are all hard on your teeth and make cavities much more likely.

Think you may have a cavity? Your Dentist of Torrance team is ready to help! Call our office at (310) 651-7660 to schedule your appointment and let us help you keep your mouth at its best.


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