Cavities are detected with a routine dental checkup. Sometimes a dental x-ray is needed to confirm the tooth decay or to check if there is any sign of hard-to-spot cavities. Cavities can be formed on all sides and areas of a tooth and are most commonly found on posterior (back) teeth, as it may be more difficult to keep those teeth clean.
Some of the symptoms of a cavity include:
1. Visible Discoloration or Dark Spots
When a cavity starts to develop, it can cause dark spots on the tooth’s surface. At first sight, these spots may look like simple staining and one may even assume that they just have mild tooth discoloration. However, over time, the dark spot gets larger, signaling to tooth decay. In some cases, cavities can even be like white spots or light marks on the tooth.
2. Sensitivity to Hot or Cold
As the decay continues to damage the tooth, the dentin becomes exposed. The dentin is more porous and can cause sensitivity. You may notice that your teeth feel more sensitive towards hot or cold food or that one or two teeth, in particular, face sensitivity. Whenever you drink something hot or cold, you may notice the development of pain specific to one tooth. This may be an indication that there is a cavity present.
3. Holes or Craters on Teeth
The bacteria associated with a cavity eventually eat the tooth, causing small holes and pits in the enamel. These holes are a sign that a cavity has formed and you most likely need to fill it. The decay can easily be treated and the new filling will fill in the hole that is currently visible.
4. Bad Breath and Unpleasant Taste
Cavities are caused by a bacterial infection that has the ability to compromise a tooth. As with all other organisms, the bacteria in your mouth excrete waste that can contribute to bad breath and an unpleasant taste in your mouth. If you notice this it may be time for a dental checkup.
5. Pain and Discomfort
The tooth that has a cavity causes you pain. You may find it difficult to bite food down without sharp, shocking pain. Some patients find it difficult to brush or floss certain areas because of pain or sensitivity. This is caused because dentin is being exposed to and affecting the inner nerve of the tooth.
6. Swelling or Bleeding Gums
When the cavity is near the gum border, the infection of the tooth can have an impact on the gum. This can result in bleeding or swollen gums, especially while brushing or flossing. Bleeding gums can also be a sign of gingivitis, so a trip to the dental clinic is warranted.
7. No Symptoms At All
When a cavity is small in size, there may be no symptoms at all. In fact, most patients won’t even know they possess a cavity until they go for their regular dental checkup. While it’s fortunate not to deal with the symptoms and signs of tooth decay, it can also be problematic in receiving timely treatment. You may not find out that there’s a problem with your teeth, which permits the cavity to grow.