Cavities are one of the most common tooth-related ailments experienced by people of all ages. Left untreated, cavities can lead to tooth loss and require costly procedures to repair or replace. Despite this fact, most people don’t know the signs of a developing cavity. Don’t let your cavity turn into a root canal or an extraction which may require a crown or a dental implant — learn how to know when you have a cavity to prevent it from becoming worse.
What is a cavity and how are cavities caused?
Cavities begin as tiny holes that eat away at your tooth enamel until they reach what’s called dentin, the layer of your tooth just beneath the enamel. Bacteria then eat the dentin until they reach the pulp — blood vessels and nerves in the middle of your tooth. From there, bacteria can spread to other areas in the mouth, attacking more tooth tissue the longer you wait to take care of a cavity.
By understanding the symptoms of a cavity, you can detect a cavity before it reaches this point. Some of the warning signs of a cavity include tooth pain or sensitivity, visible holes, dark spots, excessive and persistent bad breath, pus or chipped/broken teeth.
When tooth pain is a sign of a cavity
Pain and sensitivity are the most common symptoms of a developing or untreated cavity. Particularly in the early stages of cavity development, it’s common to experience pain when you bite down on something, especially hard foods. As a cavity progresses, pain can occur when chewing on something soft, and eventually it will hurt whether you’re chewing anything or not.
Tooth sensitivity is a less obvious sign of a cavity that occurs because bacteria are thinning down your tooth enamel — the protective coating around the nerves in the teeth. In the early stages, your tooth will be extra sensitive to hot or cold, as well as acidic or sugary foods. Some people have sensitive teeth even in the absence of cavities, but if using a toothpaste made for this condition doesn’t alleviate the problem, you probably have a cavity and need to visit a dentist.
Signs a hole in your tooth may be a cavity
Noticing a visible hole in your tooth is usually a sign that an untreated cavity has progressed. At this point, cavities frequently require fillings or possibly a root canal, depending on whether the tooth is infected or has become an abscess.
If you notice a hole on top of the tooth, running your tongue over it can tell you how likely it is to be a cavity. Holes that can be both seen and felt are almost always cavities, and should be treated by a dentist.
Are dark spots on teeth a sign of cavities?
Untreated cavities often appear as if a dark spot has formed on the infected tooth. If your tooth is discolored, it can be a sign you’ve developed a cavity. Dark spots usually appear on your tooth before a hole has formed, but there could be a hole there that you simply can’t see or feel yet.
Dark spots indicating cavities are usually gray, brown or black. If you see a spot like this, it means bacteria has begun to make its way into your enamel.
Can bad breath be a sign of cavities?
As a tooth decays, bacteria spreads and penetrates the tooth, often leading to persistent bad breath, also called halitosis. Since the bacteria that cause tooth decay and halitosis are frequently the same, bad breath is often a sign of a cavity. You may also notice a persistent bad taste in your mouth.
Visiting a dentist when experiencing halitosis is the best way to determine whether your bad breath is a sign of a cavity.
Is pus a sign of a cavity?
The presence of pus in your mouth usually indicates a serious problem caused by a cavity, referred to as an abscess. An abscess will frequently cause extreme pain and can also lead to a fever.
Pus in your mouth should never be ignored or overlooked, as it indicates extremely high levels of bacteria that can quickly spread to other areas of the mouth. Visiting a dentist can prevent the abscess from getting worse using antibiotics.
Are chipped or broken teeth signs of cavities?
Although chips and broken teeth can occur for a number of reasons, they’re also common signs you might have a cavity. When a cavity is present, teeth may break when you bite down on something hard or eat something chewy.
If your tooth is chipped or broken because of a cavity, the cavity needs to be treated quickly or it may break the rest of the tooth. In extreme cases, broken teeth may not be able to be saved, requiring an extraction.
When should you see a dentist about a cavity?
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above or suspect you might have a cavity for any reason, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible before the condition progresses.
If you’re looking for a dentist in the Jacksonville, FL area, look no further! With convenient locations in Jacksonville, St. Johns and St. Augustine, Harbour Dental Care is the top choice for family-friendly, top-quality dental care in northeast Florida. Click here to schedule your visit today and discover why we are the top-rated dentist in Jacksonville!
To prevent tooth decay, halitosis and other progressive dental issues, make tongue brushing a regular part of your oral hygiene routine using the steps below.
How to clean your tongue
The ideal time to brush your tongue is immediately after thoroughly cleaning your teeth. Although it is important to clean the entire surface of your tongue, it’s vital that you focus on the rear area nearest your throat, as it is less prone to contact with foods and liquids that help keep the front clean.
Begin by putting a small amount of toothpaste on your brush, then scrub the back of the tongue using both side-to-side and front-to-back motions. You should definitely feel the pressure of your toothbrush against your tongue, but stop or reduce pressure if it becomes painful.
If you don’t want to use your toothbrush to clean your tongue, find it difficult to get your tongue clean using a toothbrush or simply want to take your oral hygiene to the next level, you can also consider purchasing a tongue scraper for added cleanliness.
How often to clean your tongue
Brushing or scraping your tongue should be just as frequent as brushing your teeth. Twice a day is the recommended frequency for both brushing your tongue and for brushing your teeth. Traditionally, cleaning your tongue and teeth occurs each morning and evening; however, if your tongue begins to feel dry or you develop a bad taste in your mouth, it may be a sign you should add a midday tongue cleaning to your regimen.
If you’re concerned about the health and cleanliness of your tongue, it’s never a bad idea to ask your dentist about it — and if you’re looking for a dentist in the Jacksonville, FL area, look no further! With convenient locations in Jacksonville, St. Johns and St. Augustine, Harbour Dental Care is the top choice for family-friendly, top-quality dental care in northeast Florida. Click here to schedule your visit today and discover why we are the top-rated dentist in Jacksonville!