Cavities and tooth decay are common. In fact, the common cold is the only condition more common than cavities and tooth decay. Cavities, also known as dental caries, are permanently damaged areas of tooth enamel that can develop into tiny holes. Left untreated, cavities can lead to toothache, infection, and even tooth loss. Fortunately, recognizing the early warning signs of cavities can lead to prompt treatment that can stop cavities in their tracks.
Cavities develop when food and bacteria accumulate on teeth to create plaque, which is a sticky film that holds the bacteria to the surface of teeth. As bacteria in the plaque feed on sugar and starch from food, they produce acid that can erode tooth enamel. Left in place on the tooth’s surface, bacteria and acid can eventually cause cavities and tooth decay. While enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, it is no match for the bacteria and acid in plaque.
Early Warning Signs of Cavities
In their earliest stages, cavities can cause very subtle warning signs. In many cases, people do not notice the early warning signs until cavities have already begun to develop. Looking for these warning signs every time you brush can help you spot cavities in their early stages, before they can cause tooth loss.
The early warning signs of cavities include:
Toothache – pain can develop when the cavity causes inflammation of the tooth’s pulp, which is the central portion of the tooth that contains nerve endings
Sensitivity – cavities wear away the enamel to expose the layer of dentin below; dentin contains tiny tubes that communicate with the tooth’s nerve
White spot – enamel loss associated with cavities is associated with demineralization, or loss of minerals from the enamel, which can cause white spots in tooth enamel; in many cases, white spots are the first sign of cavities
Holes – if the white spot worsens, a hole or pit can develop; the hole may be visible in a mirror or felt with the tongue
Discoloration – large holes from cavities can cause dark spots to appear on teeth; dentin does not contain living cells so it cannot grow back after damage, but treatment can stop the progression of cavities and the discoloration it can cause
Pain when biting – advanced tooth decay can irritate the pulp inside the tooth, which can lead to painful flare-ups when you bite down, chew or even put food in your mouth; the longer the pain lingers after biting down, the more serious the damage from tooth decay is likely to be
Bad hygiene habits – poor oral hygiene habits are a significant early warning sign of cavities, in that the lack of regular brushing and flossing allows the bacteria and acid that cause tooth decay remain on the teeth long enough to cause decay and demineralization
While it is important to know the early warning signs of cavities, these signs can be hard to spot – cavities often develop in difficult to reach places, such as between your teeth or at the gum line. In many cases, your dentist may be the first to detect the early warning signs of cavities.
Early Warning Signs Can Be Hard to Spot
If you have any of these early warning signs of cavities, contact Triangle Dentistry in Raleigh. We have been keeping an eye on cavities for 50 years, and can spot the early warning signs of dental caries. Schedule an appointment with Triangle Dentistry in Raleigh.
Triangle Dentistry, located in Raleigh, NC, provides a state-of-the-art facility that offers exceptional general dental and specialty services guided by empathy of a patient’s needs and desires. Services range from dental crowns to veneers and whitening procedures. For further information, questions, or to schedule an appointment, contact the office at (919) 847-6000