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How To Know If You Have A Cavity

cavity_painGetting a cavity in a tooth is the most common dental problem people face.  Cavities are caused by the erosion of tooth enamel caused by a buildup of bacteria.  These bacteria attack the surface of the tooth until they eat through the enamel and begin to destroy the tooth.  Once your tooth doctor knows you have a cavity they can remove the cavity and put in a filling.  Here are the most common signs and symptoms that you might have a cavity:

  • The first sign of a cavity is usually sensitivity in the tooth or in the area surrounding the tooth.  Often when drinking hot or cold drinks or when eating you will begin to notice an aching or a pain in the area where the cavity is.  At first the pain could be simply a dull ache or a pain only noticed when actually chewing on that tooth’s surface.  If left untreated the pain from a cavity will continue to get worse and could lead to general discomfort and aching to pain that radiates through your mouth or jaw.  When you first begin to experience pain or sensitivity in any tooth it is a good idea to visit with the dentist and have it checked.
  • Discoloration or spots on areas of your teeth can sometimes be an indication of a forming cavity.  While much harder to detect this way, if you notice a spot on any of your teeth that does not seem to come clean during brushing it is worth pointing out to your dentist at your next checkup.  You can also be more vigilant in cleaning that area and be observant if other sensitivity or pain starts in the same area.
  • If you can see a hole in a tooth you most likely have a cavity.  Because a cavity is a buildup of bacteria and plaque that eats away at the surface of your tooth if left untreated it could lead to a hole developing in the surface of the tooth.  Most likely before a cavity reaches the point of creating a hole you will begin to feel pain and sensitivity.
  • Your dentist will use x-rays to determine areas where you have cavities or potential cavities.  On an x-ray healthy tooth enamel and dentin look different than cavities.  A cavity that shows up on an x-ray may be in the beginning stages and could be caught before it begins to cause any other issues.  If you come into the dentist when experiencing pain or sensitivity in your teeth they will begin by taking x-rays to help confirm whether there is a cavity.
  • An exam by your dentist will help confirm that you do have a cavity.  While all of the other signs can point to the possibility of a cavity, it is with the use of x-rays and an exam that your dentist is able to confirm you have a cavity and how big it is.

Cavities are a common dental problem.  You can reduce your chances of getting cavities by having good oral hygiene and brushing and flossing regularly.  At the first signs you might have a cavity, visit your dentist.  The sooner you have a cavity fixed the better it is for your teeth and the less extensive the filling will be.

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