Halloween is coming up soon, and that means you will probably be indulging your sweet tooth as you celebrate. There’s nothing wrong with eating your favorite candy in moderation, but if you notice any tooth pain when eating sweets, it could be a sign that you have a cavity. Here is more information about cavities, and some signs that you may have one:
What Causes Cavities?
Your teeth are composed of multiple layers. On the inside, there is the tooth root, which is made up of nerves and blood vessels. Next is the dentin, a soft, porous material. On the outside is the tooth enamel, a hard covering that protects the dentin and roots from damage.
When you eat, the sugars in your food nourish the naturally occurring bacteria that live in your mouth. As these bacteria go through their life cycles, they release harmful byproducts that eat away at tooth enamel and sap minerals like calcium from your teeth. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash can keep these bacteria in check, but if your oral health routine is lacking, they can do serious damage to your teeth. This is known as tooth decay, or more commonly as a cavity.
Signs You May Have a Cavity
Cavities and tooth decay can be very damaging to your teeth, but luckily the signs are easy to spot.
- Increased Tooth Sensitivity – When your tooth enamel becomes eroded, it exposes the porous dentin underneath. The microscopic tubes in the dentin create a pathway that leads directly to the sensitive nerves in your tooth root. This can cause increased sensitivity to sugary foods as well as hot or cold foods and beverages. If you notice increased pain when eating or drinking, it could mean you have a cavity.
- Toothaches – Persistent pain and pressure in the teeth can be a sign that the dentin is exposed. If you have a toothache, it is crucial that you see a dentist immediately to find the root of the problem.
- Staining on the Teeth – When the soft dentin is exposed, it can soak up staining liquids from the food and beverages you consume. Tooth stains usually start out white but become dark brown or black as tooth decay progresses.
- A Visible Hole in Your Tooth – In simple terms, a cavity is a hole in the tooth enamel. They are often too small to be seen, or they may occur in locations that are difficult to see, like between the molars. Of course, if you notice a visible hole in any of your teeth, it is an obvious sign that there is a cavity there and you should seek treatment immediately.
In most cases, treating a cavity is as simple as getting a filling. Your dentist will remove any damaged tissue and replace it with a strong dental composite made from plastic resin and ceramic. The earlier you spot cavities and get them filled, the simpler the process will be. Getting a filling is nearly painless, and can often be completed in the same appointment as your checkup. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, you should schedule a dental checkup immediately to prevent tooth decay from progressing any further.
If you need a dental checkup in the Chicago area, the team at American Dental is here to help! Check out our “Locations” dropdown menu to find a list of our 8 Chicagoland clinics, and call or schedule an appointment online if you need a dental exam in River West Chicago or anywhere else in the area.