Ouch! You bite down on a nice ice cream cone, and your teeth suddenly hurt. Or perhaps you’re enjoying your favourite frappuccino and savouring the whipped cream and caramel, but your teeth are tingling. Both of these can be signs you have a cavity.
When you have a cavity, part of your tooth's hard surface, called enamel, now has tiny holes in it. A cavity or tooth decay can be caused by a variety of factors, including everything from sweetened drinks to not cleaning or flossing your teeth properly.
Anyone can get cavities; don’t think that just because you’re young, you’re immune! Even infants can get cavities, which is why dentists recommend never putting babies to bed with a bottle.
Here are the 5 most common signs that you have a cavity:
- Sensitivity to hot or cold
- Sensitivity to sweet items
- Staining on your teeth
- A hole in your tooth
At Guelph Family Dentistry, we’re passionate about making sure you get your cavities filled quickly and painlessly. If you have any of these signs, we’d be happy to help you.
What causes cavities?
It’s impossible to avoid the everyday activities that can cause cavities since we all have to eat and drink to live. However, some sugary or sticky culprits like chewy candy, soft drinks, and dried fruit can cause more damage than harmless items like water.
If you don’t brush and floss your teeth thoroughly or frequently enough, food and bacteria can build up on your teeth. When that happens, plaque builds up. If plaque stays on your teeth long enough, it can harden into something called tartar. Tartar makes plaque even harder to remove, as well as creating a shield for bacteria.
The plaque on your teeth contain acids, which then start to eat away at the enamel on your teeth. If it stays on long enough, it can reach the next layer of your teeth: the dentin. Once a cavity gets to this stage, you will start having pain or sensitivity in your tooth, as dentin contains tiny tubes directly connected to the nerve of the tooth.
These are the most common places that cavities start:
- Between your teeth
- At the bottom of your teeth
- On your molars
They tend to be the places that food gets stuck the most often, causing cavities to occur.
5 Most Common Signs of a Cavity
Once you’ve got a cavity, your teeth will let you know! A cavity can make itself known in various ways. These are the most common:
- If you eat something hot or cold and feel mild or even sharp pain, this can be the sign of a cavity. You are feeling pain because enough of the enamel has worn away that the layer below it, called the dentin, is now being impacted by what you are eating. When this happens, the cells and nerves inside your teeth are stimulated, causing pain.
- Another sign you have a cavity is a sensitivity to sweet items. This is similar to the issue with hot or cold items: if you have a sweetened iced tea or coffee, your teeth may not react well if your enamel has worn away.
- Staining on your teeth is also a sign of tooth decay. It may start out white, but it will soon become brown or black as the cavity advances.
- If your tooth hurts all the time, and even more so when you’re eating, this is one of the most common signs of a cavity.
- A hole or pit in your tooth. You may not be able to see it, but you may be able to feel it when you run your tongue over your teeth.
The more of these symptoms you have, the more advanced your cavity is. It’s important to make a dental appointment right away, particularly if you have lasting pain or can see visible decay on your teeth.
What kind of complications can a cavity cause?
The longer a cavity goes untreated, the more damage it’s going to do. If tooth decay is left untreated, bacteria and acid start eating away at the pulp (inner tooth material), which contains nerves and blood vessels. At this stage, you are likely going to be in a lot of pain.
Complications of cavities may include:
- Pain, which increases as the cavity progresses
- A tooth abscess, which can lead to a very serious infection
- Swelling or pus around a tooth
- Chewing issues
- Damaged or broken teeth
- Removal of the tooth
Dental care has come a long way, and pulling a tooth is not nearly as common as it used to be. The sooner you get a cavity treated, the better the outcome will be! At Guelph Family Dentistry, we have many options for treating you quickly and painlessly.
How can Guelph Family Dentistry help you?
You’ve learned today what cavities are, what the main signs of a cavity are, and what can happen if you don’t get a cavity treated.
We’re here to ensure that you know the early signs of a cavity and that you get treated right away. When you come to Guelph Family Dentistry for a cavity filling, you’ll get:
- Excellent care from our family-oriented team of dentists.
- Relief from the pain the cavity is causing you. After we put in a filling, you will no longer experience pain or tenderness when eating or drinking hot, cold, or sugary items.
- A guaranteed long lifespan on your filling. As well, you will be able to chew properly again without having to avoid the section of your mouth with the cavity.
- Options for payment plans and direct billing to insurance.
Make an Appointment Today
At Guelph Family Dentistry, we are proud to offer a variety of services to cover all your oral healthcare needs. We offer:
- Extractions and implants
- Braces and Invisalign