How to Tell If You Have a Cavity

Dental caries (cavities) can be defined as holes in the tooth outer layers which are known as the dentin and enamel. According to statistics, more than 90% of the population is affected by dental cavities. Most of the cavities are small and thus go unnoticed as they are not painful or uncomfortable. Larger cavities have the ability to trap food particles, and this irritates the pulp leading to a toothache. Also, cold, hot, sour and sweet foods can irritate the pulp leading to toothaches too. Besides pain, what other signs can help tell if you have a cavity? How to prevent dental cavities?

How to Tell If You Have a Cavity

Cavities are also referred to as caries or tooth decay. They form as a result of several factors including bacteria, poor teeth hygiene and intake of too many sugary foods.

The signs of tooth decay can vary depending on the location and the extent of the decay. When the decay is just starting, it is impossible to detect since there are no symptoms at all. However, as the cavity enlarges, there are several signs that include:

1. Pain

This first kind of pain is simply a tingling feeling that is mostly self-triggered. This is a sign of a serious cavity problem known as irreversible pulpitis. When your tooth begins to ache without being triggered, this is sign that the nerves have been infected by bacteria or an irritant. The nerve is also possibly in the process of dying.

The second kind of toothache occurs when using the tooth. You get a stabbing pain whenever you use the affected tooth to chew or even when not chewing. Toothaches affect your ability to concentrate and can even deprive you of sleep at night. If you realize that you have a fever emanating from the toothache, you need to schedule an appointment with your dentist.

2. Sensitivity

Teeth with cavities are very sensitive to changes in temperature, and this is very common. Sensitivity starts when the top cover of the enamel decays affecting the layer beneath.

  • Sensitivity to sweets and sugar

This is the most common sign of cavity formation. This type of sensitivity comes in the form of a tingly feeling each time you eat something sugary or sweets.

  • Sensitivity to cold and hot

While tooth sensitivity to cold and hot temperatures may be normal, it could also mean that the tooth has an underlying problem. If your teeth suddenly develop temperature sensitivity, you can either have a cavity, reversible pulpitis (early signs of decay), or you could be suffering from gum recession.

3. Bad Breath

There are several factors that can cause bad breath, and cavities are some of these causes. The tooth decay makes room for bacteria proliferation, which eventually causes bad breath. If you notice that you suddenly have bad breath yet you practice good mouth hygiene, it may be because you are developing tooth cavities.

4. Dark Spot or a Hole in the Tooth

This is the most assuring sign of tooth decay. When you notice that your tooth has suddenly developed a hole, it is because your enamel has been eroded. You can have a tooth x-ray to determine whether the hole is caused by a cavity. Also, the appearance of the dark spot on the tooth’s surface can be a sign of tooth decay. It is important to check with your dentist to establish whether the dark spot is due to teeth decay.

For more details on cavities, you can watch this video:

How to Prevent a Cavity

  • Brush your teeth at least two times each day with toothpaste containing fluoride. It is most preferable that you brush the teeth after each meal and before going to bed at night.
  • Clean between teeth each day using interdental cleaners or dental floss such as Sulcabrush, Oral-B Interdental Brush or Reach Stim-U-Dent.
  • Limit your intake of snacks and increase your intake of nutritionally balanced meals. Avoid carbohydrates like chips, pretzels and candy, which linger on the tooth’s surface for long. When you eat sticky foods, ensure you brush your teeth immediately after the meal.
  • Develop a habit of taking fluoridated water. One pint of this water every day can prevent tooth decay. Visit your dentist to discuss the use of supplement fluoride for teeth strengthening. Ensure you visit your dentist often for dental cleaning and examining.
  • You can also ask your dentist about the use of dental sealants, which are protective coating made of plastic. They are applied to the chewing surface of your teeth for protection.
  • Dental researchers are always looking for solutions to tooth decay prevention. According to a recent study, chewing on gum containing xylitol sweetener can temporarily stop bacteria growth in teeth, which further prevents teeth decay.

For more details on tooth decay and prevention, you can watch:

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