Cavities are very common — over 90 percent of all adults have had a cavity filled! But if left untreated, a small cavity can lead to pain, further decay, and even infection and tooth loss, so it’s important to get it filled as soon as you can. Not sure how to tell if there’s a problem? Dr. Hamby, a leading Fuquay Varina dentist, is sharing the signs of a cavity and what to do next.
What Is a Cavity?
A cavity is a decayed area in the enamel of the tooth that leads to a small hole or opening. There are three types of dental cavities:
- Smooth surface cavities dissolve the tooth enamel at the front or sides of the tooth enamel. While they are slow to form and grow, they are most likely to develop between the teeth where it’s hard to reach without flossing.
- Pit and fissure cavities form on the top of the chewing surface and progress quickly once they begin to form.
- Root decay forms below the gumline, typically in older adults who have receding gums or periodontitis. As the gums recede, the root of the tooth is exposed to plaque and bacteria, making the area susceptible to decay.
What Causes Cavities?
Millions of bacteria live in the mouth, and when you eat or drink, food particles combine with the bacteria and saliva in your mouth to form plaque, a thin, sticky material. The bacteria feeds on sugars in food particles left in the mouth, which releases an acidic substance, and it’s the acid that eats through the tooth enamel to create a cavity. This is why eating foods high in sugar makes you more prone to cavities.
5 Signs of a Cavity
Now that you know exactly what a cavity is and what causes them, let’s look at the five signs of a cavity so you know what to look for.
Sensitivity to Temperature
A cavity exposes the dentin in the tooth, which is a porous layer of softer material under the enamel. If you eat or drink something hot or cold, the temperature will stimulate the nerves within the tooth, causing a sharp, sudden pain. This pain may go away quickly or linger for several minutes.
Any discoloration could be a sign of a cavity, whether it’s brown, black, or even white. Over time, this may develop into a hole in your tooth that you can see or even feel with your tongue.
Whether it’s a dull tooth pain or a sharp sensation, a more serious cavity often causes pain. This may become more serious when eating or chewing.
Rough Spot on Your Tooth
If your tooth feels rough, or there’s a rough spot on the outside of the tooth, the enamel may be weakening due to multiple very small holes in the enamel.
Persistent Bad Breath
If a cavity grows, bacteria and food may collect in the void, which can create an odor or a bad taste in your mouth. While eating certain foods may cause temporary bad breath, persistent odors are a sign of something more serious.
What to Do If You Have a Cavity in Your Tooth
If you’re worried you have a cavity, the first thing you need to do is make an appointment with your dentist. They can examine the area and take x-rays to determine the extent of any damage. Most likely, a simple filling is all that is needed to restore the tooth and eliminate any pain or other concerns.
It’s important to note that often, cavities go unnoticed and may not cause pain, sensitivity, or discoloration. That’s why it’s so important to schedule regular checkups so your dentist can easily identify small problems before the turn into serious issues with your dental health.
Schedule a Checkup with a Dentist in Fuquay Varina Today
If you are experiencing any of the signs of a cavity, or you’re due for a checkup and teeth cleaning, we can help. We have an experienced team and are dedicated to helping you maintain a healthy smile in a safe, comfortable atmosphere. To schedule a dental appointment, give us a call at 919-552-2431 or fill out the form below to get started.