A cavity, also known as tooth decay, is a hole that can form in your tooth. Usually cavities start very small and gradually become bigger if they are left untreated. Most of the time cavities are not painful in their beginning stages, making it difficult to detect them until they become more severe. The best way to stay on top of your oral health and catch a cavity early on, is by visiting your dentist on a regular basis. In fact, many people are shocked when they go to the dentist and learn they have a cavity when they have zero signs or symptoms. It’s always best to treat your cavity ASAP to avoid the progression of tooth decay.
Some common symptoms of a cavity may depend on the severity of the decay or how long it has been present. You may experience tooth sensitivity, tooth pain, white or black staining on the tooth or you may even see the start of a hole.
Cavities on a tooth are typically caused by a substance called plaque. Plaque is a combination of food particles, acid, bacteria and saliva that form a sticky film on your teeth. We all have bacteria in our mouths – it’s inevitable! After we eat or drink something, the bacteria in our mouth turns sugar into acid which then begins the process of erosion of the tooth enamel. Enamel is the hard protective layer on our teeth that protects us from getting tooth decay. If that enamel is weakened, there is much higher chance for tooth decay.
Everyone is at risk for getting a cavity in their lifetime, but some people are at a higher risk depending on their lifestyle and habits.
If you feel any sensitivity or pain in a tooth, call your dental office as soon as possible. Most of the time your dentist can detect tooth decay after a regular dental exam. Sometimes however, a cavity may not be visible at that time, so he/she may need to take x-rays to check for decay.
Sometimes if teeth are positioned too close together or spaced apart, food can get trapped and remain on the tooth for long periods of time. This can then cause tooth decay and eventually put you at a higher risk of getting cavities.
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