How to Tell if You Have a Cavity

Cavities are extremely easy, and fairly cost effective, to treat but only when they are caught early. Learn about the signs and symptoms you should watch out for that could indicate you have a cavity.

Symptom #1 – Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is often the very first symptom people experience when they get a cavity. Unfortunately, many people ignore tooth sensitivity because they don’t associate it with cavities.

A cavity causes tooth sensitivity because the bacteria slowly erodes or destroys the enamel of the teeth. The enamel on your teeth serves as a barrier that protects the very sensitive nerves in your teeth. When the enamel is worn away, the nerves become exposed and you could experience a tingling or tickling sensation when consuming foods and beverages that are hot, cold, extremely sugary, or extremely acidic.

Symptom #2 – Appearance of Dark Brown, Black, or Gray Spots on the Teeth

That dark brown, gray, or black stain that is discoloring your teeth may be caused by the coffee you love to drink or it could be caused by a cavity. When cavities develop they start to wear away at the enamel of your teeth. Eventually, the cavity wears away at the enamel so much that it causes a hole to develop. If a hole has formed on your teeth it will look like a dark smudge or spot.

Symptom #3 – Bad Breath

The bacteria that causes tooth decay and cavities is also known to cause halitosis or bad breath. If you have bad breath that doesn’t go away with routine brushing and flossing, it could be a sign that you have a cavity that needs to be treated.

Symptom #4 – Pus

If a cavity is left untreated for a lengthy period of time, it continues to destroy your teeth and gums. Eventually, the cavity will become so severe that it turns into an abscess. When this happens, pus tends to develop where the cavity has developed. In addition to pus, you may experience extreme pain, a metallic taste in your mouth, and a fever.

An abscessed tooth should never, ever be ignored as it can cause serious health problems. If you suspect you have an abscessed tooth schedule an appointment right away with your dentist. He or she will prescribe an antibiotic to prevent the abscess from spreading. Eventually, the cavity can be treated to prevent it from becoming abscessed again.

Symptom #5 – Toothache

It is not normal to experience a toothache when you are eating or biting down on something. If this happens to you, it could be caused by a cavity that has just begun to develop.

You may want to ignore the occasional toothache, but that only leads to more severe dental problems. Ignoring an occasional toothache and not getting the cavity treated when it is in its early stages could result in the development of a constant and consistent toothache that is extremely painful. If you experience any toothache, it is best to have it looked at by a dentist so any cavities can be quickly treated before they become extremely painful.

Not All Cavities Produce Symptoms

When a cavity first develops, you may not experience any symptoms at all. Symptoms typically do not start to develop until the dentin, a protective layer of your teeth has been destroyed and the pulp is exposed or attacked.

Even though a cavity may not be causing you any pain or discomfort, it still needs to be treated. If it is left untreated the bacterium which is causing your tooth decay will continue to spread and cause more damage to your teeth. Eventually, the tooth will become so damaged that you will require a root canal or even a tooth extraction.

The only way to know if you have asymptomatic cavities is to schedule regular routine examinations with your dentist. At these appointments, your dentist will use specialized tools and x-rays to look for any cavities that may need to be treated.  Once the cavities are quickly spotted they can be promptly treated before they cause further damage to your teeth and gums.

Think you might have a cavity? Call Artistic Touch Dentistry to schedule an appointment to be seen by our dentist.