What is a cavity?
Cavities are among the most common types of decay seen by oral health professionals. They occur on the hard, outer surface of the tooth known as the enamel. Though cavities start off small, they can quickly grow and cause more serious health issues. By learning how to recognize a cavity’s symptoms, you can prevent costly and more intensive treatments for a long-lasting smile.
What causes cavities?
Cavities form when decay on the tooth’s surface slowly eats away at the enamel, creating a hole that can continually grow larger. Most often, the source of the decay is lingering bacteria and food particles from eating and drinking. The longer food and bacteria remains on the tooth, the higher the risk of decay forming and spreading. This is why a proper oral hygiene regimen is essential.
While poor oral hygiene is generally the first culprit for cavities, the following may also increase your risk for decay:
- High consumption of sugary snacks and drinks
- Smoking and tobacco use
- Certain medications and illnesses
Understanding how cavities are caused can greatly improve your ability to prevent them.
What are the symptoms of cavities?
Recognizing cavities early, when they are still small, allows you to get the attention you need and deserve. One of the most important reasons for visiting the dentist regularly is to ensure your teeth are free of decay and to catch damage as early as possible. However, you can be instrumental in securing your own oral health watching for tooth decay at home.
Some of the common symptoms of cavities include:
- Dark spots on the surface of your teeth
- Pain when biting down or chewing food
- Increased tooth sensitivity, especially to hot and cold temperatures
- Swelling in the gums
- Darkening or discoloration of an entire tooth
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, contact Dr. Barton Gleave today! Not only should the tooth be examined, but our team can also provide you with information on how to care for your tooth and alleviate any pain before you make it into the office.
Cavities may be common, but they are also easily treated. If caught in time, cavities can often be treated in a single visit. When you learn to recognize cavities, you take another step towards ensuring your smile stays happy and healthy for life.