By the time people get into their 20s, it’s said that roughly 90% of them have experienced at least one cavity. And even more concerning, almost 30% of adults are walking around with cavities that haven’t been treated.
Leaving cavities untreated doesn’t just lead to discomfort or pain. It can also lead to serious health problems like destroyed teeth, infections, and more.
With cavities being such a common thing among adults and children alike, it’s important to know the symptoms of one so you can make sure you stay on top of your dental health.
Here are six signs of a cavity, as well as what you can do to help prevent them in the future.
What Is a Cavity?
When you don’t brush your teeth or floss regularly, food and bacteria build up on them and create plaque. This plaque forms acids that begin to eat away at the enamel in your teeth. When your teeth get eaten up by acid and bacteria, this is what forms a cavity.
Eating foods that are super sugary can lead to cavities more easily. This includes things like ice cream, candy, dried fruit, chips, and especially soda.
A cavity is a hole in your tooth that isn’t always easy to spot. If cavities aren’t taken care of, they can lead to serious pain and dental problems.
Signs of a Cavity
If you’re worried you might have a cavity but you’re not sure whether it’s time to call the dentist or not, we’ve got you covered. Here are several signs of tooth decay that might mean you have a cavity that needs attention.
1. Sensitivity to Hot and Cold
When you take a sip of hot coffee or you bite into cold ice cream, is there an area of your mouth that causes you discomfort? If you’re feeling sensitivity when eating or drinking hot or cold things, this may be a sign that you have a cavity.
This is because the enamel on your tooth protects the inside of your tooth (dentin). And when that enamel gets eaten away by a cavity, it leaves the more sensitive part of your tooth free to feel the effects of all those hot and cold foods.
2. Toothache or Pain
A toothache or pain in the mouth is one of the most common signs of a growing cavity.
Whether you feel pain very suddenly and it comes and goes, or you feel a consistent ache in your mouth, you may be suffering from the effects of a cavity. If you’re feeling pain that doesn’t go away in a day or two, call a dentist to get your teeth checked out.
3. Sensitivity to Sweets
It’s likely that your dentist, whether in the past or present, has warned you about eating too many sweets. Not only do these types of foods create cavities, but they can alert you to the cavities as well.
Just like with hot or cold things, if you’re eating or drinking something sweet and you notice your mouth is hurting, this could be a sign pointing to tooth decay.
4. Stains on Your Tooth
Cavities often start as a white stain on your tooth that eventually turns darker as the cavity gets worse. These stains typically show up on the surface of your tooth.
If you notice a stain on your tooth that looks brown or black, you may have a cavity that needs fixing by a professional.
5. Pressure or Pain When Biting Down
This sign goes along with tooth sensitivity. It’s normal for cavities to make eating or biting down on something feel unnaturally uncomfortable.
If you bite down on something, whether it’s a soft food or hard food, and you feel pressure or pain, this could mean something isn’t quite right and it’s time to get your teeth looked at.
6. A Hole or Pit in Your Tooth
When cavities get really bad, they will create holes or pits in your teeth. Sometimes you may even be able to see the hole or pit when you look at your mouth in the mirror, or you may feel it with your tongue. Other times, a hole or pit can’t be seen or felt without professional dental tools.
If you see a pit or hole in one (or more) of your teeth, this is a pretty clear indicator that you have a cavity. Contact your dentist as soon as possible so they can help you take care of it.
Preventing Cavities (or Future Ones!)
Whether you think you have cavity symptoms now or you want to try to prevent them in the future, there are a few ways you can take better care of your teeth so that cavities are less likely to happen.
Start by making sure to brush your teeth twice a day using good toothpaste. And don’t skip the flossing! This is important for healthy teeth and gums too.
Instead of snacking on those sweet and sugary foods, try to opt for more fruits and vegetables. Drinking more water is also helpful – this will help rinse out your mouth so sugar and bacteria can’t build up as easily.
To make sure your teeth are staying clean and healthy, visit a dentist once every six months for regular cleanings so they can spot any early signs of a cavity. If you have tooth concerns or feel pain, always reach out to a dentist to stop the problem in its tracks.
Visit a Dentist for All of Your Dental Needs
Taking proper care of your teeth by brushing and flossing is an essential part of keeping your mouth healthy. By learning the signs of a cavity, you can help make sure you get it taken care of by a dentist as soon as you notice a symptom of cavities pop up.
Are you worried you have a cavity and want your teeth checked out? Or maybe you haven’t had a dental cleaning in a while and would like an examination to make sure everything looks good? Reach out to us to schedule a visit with our professionals today so we can help you keep your smile looking great.