A cavity is a common dental condition that affects almost everyone. According to a report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics in 2011-2012, about 91% of Americans aged 20-64 years old had dental cavities in their permanent teeth. Moreover, 30% of this population has untreated cavities.
A cavity, or commonly known as tooth decay, is the damaged or decayed part of your tooth caused by the acids from the food that you eat and the bacteria found in your mouth. If cavities are left untreated, it can lead to a hole in your tooth, or worse, a damage on the whole tooth. The good news is that cavities are treatable, depending on the severity of the cavity. So, it is important to diagnose it early. Here are the early signs of cavity that you should watch out for:
- Sensitive tooth
As the acid penetrates the tooth, it will wear away the tooth enamel and eventually expose the dentin. The dentin is the porous part of the teeth with microscopic hollow tubes that can cause sensitivity problems. If you start feeling sudden pain or sensitivity whenever you eat or drink hot, cold, or sticky; then, most probably you have tooth cavities.
One of the most common signs of cavity is pain especially if the cavity has already affected the nerve cells on your tooth and gums. The pain may be sudden or happens when you eat hot or cold foods, there are also times when the pain becomes consistent and even disturbs your sleep.
- Hole in the tooth
The acid and bacteria can do so much damage on your tooth including creating holes and pits on it. This may start as a white spot on the tooth, which slowly erodes the tooth enamel until a hole is formed. When this happens, it is important to remove the decaying part and have a filling treatment from your dentist.
- Tooth stains or discoloration
The earliest sign of cavity is probably tooth discoloration. As the decay starts, dark spots or stains will form on the surface of the tooth. Some may think that the discoloration is an effect of the food or beverage consumed. However, if the stain doesn’t go away and gets larger, then it could be a sign of cavity.
- Bad breath
The bacteria that thrive on the acid on your mouth and causes your tooth cavities are also the same bacteria that give your breath a foul odor. Bad breath can be caused by improper and irregular brushing of teeth. But it can be also caused by cavities that have reached the pulp of your tooth.
- Gum bleeding
Tooth cavities start from the outermost part of the teeth and burrow down to your dentin until it reaches the gums. During this time, the bacteria from your decaying tooth may also harm your gums causing an infection and other gums diseases. A cavity that has affected the gums will result in painful and bleeding tissues when brushing the teeth.
A cavity is something that should be treated immediately in order to prevent further problems such as tooth loss and gum infection. Regular and proper brushing of teeth plays a very important role in preventing tooth cavities. It is important to make regular visits to your dentist for a professional dental exam and cleaning.