Your tooth is suddenly sensitive or you see a bit of discoloration, and now you’re wondering, “Do I have a cavity?” To get an accurate diagnosis, you’ll need to visit a dentist for an exam. In fact, the earlier a cavity is detected and treated, the easier and more affordable treatment will be.
That said, as a general dentist in Anderson, SC, there are some common signs of cavities that we see on a daily basis. When these symptoms arise, it’s time to book a dental appointment.
What is a cavity?
In simple terms, a cavity is a hole in your tooth. They form when acids in the mouth erode a tooth’s hard outer layer. Anyone can get a cavity. Proper brushing, flossing and dental cleanings are your best defense against cavities.
Tooth Decay vs Cavity
We’ve been asked this question before…Is tooth decay a cavity?
The short answer is no. Tooth decay is not the same as a cavity. However, tooth decay can cause cavities if it progresses.
Tooth decay, also called dental caries, starts as plaque (which is that sticky film that can build up on your teeth). The bacteria in plaque produces acid that, if left unchecked, can destroy the surface of your teeth. This acid can eventually cause your tooth to decay, leading to a hole in your enamel. This is how you get a cavity.
It is important to note that early tooth decay often has no symptoms. The only way to detect early cavity symptoms is to visit a practice like Carolina Oaks Dental Care of Anderson for a full exam. As we noted above, treating decay early is key. It can help you avoid the need for more extensive procedures like a root canal or extraction.
Do I have a cavity?
If you’ve never had a cavity, you might not know how to recognize one. Knowing the main cavity symptoms can alert you that something is wrong. See your dentist if you experience any of these seven signs:
1. Tooth Sensitivity
With a cavity, patients experience tooth sensitivity that ranges from mild to severe. Your teeth feel sensitive due to bacteria that is thinning down your tooth enamel. Enamel protects the nerves in the teeth.
If you have a cavity developing, you may find that your tooth is extra sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. Tooth sensitivity isn’t an automatic diagnosis of a cavity. Before deciding on the worst-case scenario, try switching your toothpaste to one made to combat tooth sensitivity. If doing this doesn’t solve the issue, then it is time to call a dentist to get checked out.
2. Toothache/Tooth Pain
In the early stages of a cavity, you may experience mild or no pain at all. However, if ignored, you could develop a severe toothache. This pain can be constant and affect your life while eating, drinking, talking, or doing nothing at all.
3. Bad Breath
Yes, the rumors are true. Cavities can cause bad breath and leave a bad taste in your mouth. Tiny holes in your teeth create areas for food and particles to get stuck, leading to a breeding ground for bacteria. If you notice persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth, this could be a sign of a cavity in your tooth.
4. Bleeding when Brushing
When your tooth begins to decay, the infection can irritate the gum tissue. This can cause bleeding when you brush, which is a potential sign of a cavity or gum disease. In some cases, it could be a mixture of both. If you have a deep cavity that sits close to your gum line, food can get stuck and cause further problems.
5. Dark Spots and Discoloration
Tooth discoloration is also a major telltale sign of a cavity. These spots usually look gray, brown, or black, and the tooth in question may feel soft and sticky. Seeing a dark spot on your tooth indicates that bacteria has begun to make its way into your enamel and that you have a cavity.
6. Visible Holes
The most obvious sign that you are dealing with a cavity is if you have a visible hole in your tooth. You will need a filling at this point to prevent the infection from spreading and restore your enamel.
7. Cracked Tooth
The bacteria that causes cavities to form weakens the enamel of your tooth. This makes your tooth vulnerable when you’re eating chewy or hard foods. If you experience your tooth ‘cracking’ when you bite, immediately stop chewing on that side of your mouth. Your cavity must be treated promptly before it breaks the rest of the tooth.
Looking for Cavity Treatment in Anderson, SC?
Contact Carolina Oaks Dental Care to make an appointment with an expert Anderson dentist for your cavity treatment today!