Do I Have A Cavity?
Do I Have A Cavity Blog Image

Do I Have A Cavity?

Cavities are among the most common health problems in the world. It is important to know if you have a cavity so you can make sure to see your dentist immediately and prevent further damage to your teeth. Nearly every adult has had at least one cavity, with almost 30% of American adults having at least one untreated cavity at any time. You need to know the warning signs of cavities to make sure you take care of your teeth in the best way possible and prevent future pain, time and costs associated with more serious dental issues.

Are Cavities Really That Serious?

Yes! Cavities are extremely common, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous. An untreated cavity can cause extensive damage to a tooth. If left untreated it can destroy a tooth to the point of extraction. Because cavities are really decay of the tooth they can also cause more serious oral health issues like infections or abscesses. Once a cavity has developed beyond a small hole in the tooth you can expect a lot more treatment to be necessary to repair the damage.

How Do I Know if I Have a Cavity?

There are a few warning signs to look out for that may indicate you have a cavity. If you experience any of these signs it is a good idea to make an appointment with your dentist right away.


Any kind of pain in your mouth is a warning from your body. Pain from cavities may be spontaneous and appear out of nowhere. The pain may linger for a while, or it may come and go. Cavity pain is often isolated to one or two teeth and seems to return in the same place each time. Often the pain is brought on by eating or putting pressure on the affected tooth or teeth like when biting down, but the pain can also seem to begin without any apparent cause.

If you have recurring pain in one or two teeth or pain that seems to begin for no reason it is time to see your dentist and ask if you have a cavity.

Discoloration or Staining

Staining or general discoloration of teeth happens naturally with age. As you eat and drink the foods and beverages you consume lend their color to the hard outer shell of enamel on your teeth. This results in a yellow or sometimes brownish appearance to all your teeth. Staining or discoloration from a cavity is different.

Often staining from tooth decay begins as white when the bacteria in your mouth eats away the enamel layer of your tooth and exposes the new white layer underneath. As cavities develop, they may turn brown or even black. These stains cannot be cleaned away by brushing or flossing and are not fixed by using whitening solutions. If you notice stains on your teeth, it could be natural, but make sure you have your dentist check it out.

Tooth Sensitivity

When you get a cavity, it exposes the hard tissue layer under your enamel called dentin. The dentin houses the nerve endings in your teeth. When the dentin is exposed, it is easier for the nerves in your teeth to be overstimulated by the things you eat or drink and cause sensitivity or even pain. Hot, cold, or very sweet things can all cause this sensitivity.

If you notice your teeth are newly sensitive or that a particular tooth is especially sensitive to temperature or sweets it may be caused by a cavity. Sensitivity to sugary foods or drinks is especially a sign of tooth decay, so ask your dentist to take a look.

Holes in Teeth

Cavities are holes. Once the bacteria in your mouth has eaten away at the enamel and tissues of your teeth they leave a hole. The hole is often discolored and may be visible with a mirror or can be felt by moving your tongue across your teeth. If you notice a hole, pit, or dent in your tooth it is a sure sign of a cavity and a reason to see your dentist.

Can I Fix a Cavity at Home?

Cavities cannot be brushed or flossed away. While regular brushing and flossing helps to prevent cavities you will need to see your dentist once a cavity has developed. The sooner your dentist treats your cavity the easier it will be.

How Can I Prevent Cavities?

Preventing cavities starts by keeping up a good oral health routine. Cavities are created by plaque- the sticky residue on your teeth that feeds on sugar and food particles. The plaque creates acids that eat away at your teeth. Follow these steps to help keep plaque at bay and keep your teeth safe from cavities.

Brush and Floss

Regular brushing and flossing are the best ways to rid your mouth of bacteria and plaque. Make sure to brush at least twice a day and floss each day before you go to bed. This cleans out your mouth and gives plaque less to feed on.

Avoid Too Much Sugar

Foods high in sugar leave a sugary film in your mouth and on your teeth. Sugar is the perfect food for plaque bacteria to feed on. Sticky sugars like candy are even worse because they are hard to clean off your teeth and get stuck in the crevices between. Eat a healthy diet that includes foods naturally good at cleaning teeth like apples and carrots.

See Your Dentist Regularly

Regular dental office visits are the best way to prevent damage from cavities. You should see your dentist every 6 months for regular dental cleanings and to allow the opportunity for your dentist to examine your teeth and notice any problematic changes. The sooner a cavity is identified by your dentist the faster, easier, and cheaper it can be remedied.

Do you need a dental cleaning or oral exam? Our Dentists of Whittier team is here to help you. Call our office at (562) 414-5025 to schedule an appointment or speak to our staff about your dental needs.


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