What is a cavity and how do I know if I have one?
A cavity forms in patients of all ages, and it is important to remember that they are preventable! Allowing food to sit on teeth for too long invites unwanted bacteria. When bacteria digest the sugars in the food on your teeth, they release acid. The acid causes your hard tooth structure to break down and eventually can form a hole. Once the cavity hole is formed, bacteria can hide even farther from your toothbrush, and this adds to the destructive process.
When cavities are very small and symptom-free, they are sometimes reversible!
If the cavity is found during your dental checkup in the outer enamel layer of your tooth, it is still in the reversible stage. Focus on flossing twice a day and adding a fluoride mouthwash to your daily routine, and the enamel can remineralize, saving you from having a filling.
Symptoms can begin when the cavity reaches the second layer of your tooth.
This layer is the dentin layer, and at this stage, the cavity is no longer reversible. It must be filled. You could experience the following symptoms:
- Cold/Hot sensitivity
- Sensitivity to sweets
If left untreated, your cavity can cause irreversible inflammation in your tooth’s nerve, and you will most likely need a root canal to resolve your more intensified symptoms!
Those intense symptoms include the following:
- Spontaneous pain (could wake you up at night)
- Shooting pain when biting down
- Long Lingering pain to Cold/Hot
It is very important that you continue to see your dentist every 6 months for a check up!
Your dentist can catch cavities when they are small, before your symptoms intensify. If your dentist tells you that you have a cavity, schedule to have it filled before you start experiencing any symptoms. This will keep the filling as conservative as possible, preserving more of your natural healthy tooth structure.