Ouch! Where did that toothache come from? Even if your tooth looks normal to you, a sudden toothache could be a warning sign that tooth decay is beginning to infect your tooth. Unfortunately, cavities affect more than 90% of adults (ages 20-64) – but, they’re preventable and repairable – especially when caught early enough. You may be thinking; how do I know if I have a cavity? You’re not alone and unfortunately, this uncertainty can often lead to delayed treatment. Without treatment, your cavity could begin to form an abscess, and you may even risk losing your tooth! Remember; the earlier you catch an infection, the easier it is to treat.
What Causes A Cavity?
Normal bacteria around your mouth creates acid when it comes in contact with sugars and starches – forming plaque. The acids in plaque can damage the outer layer of enamel on your teeth, and if left untreated, will only multiply. Once it breaks through the enamel, the bacteria will begin to create holes in your tooth – these holes are cavities.
Catching The Infection
While it is true that you may have a sudden onset of pain, most of the time your tooth may not hurt at all. You may notice other abnormal conditions like darkening areas, white spots, or even a chip or break in your tooth. Visiting your dentist twice per year (or more often, if they recommend) can really aid in the early detection of decay. Your dentist won’t only rely on their visual assessment to search for cavities – they may use an intraoral camera, x-ray images, or in some cases – even DIAGNOdent with Dr. Calcagno.
If caught early on, cavities are often treated with a dental filling. You may be thinking of amalgam (silver) fillings, but this isn’t the only material used anymore. Now, your dentist can match the shade of your natural tooth using materials like composite-resin. To place a filling, your dentist must first remove any infected portion of your tooth. Then, they’ll replace that area with the filling material to protect your tooth from any further damage.
Are you experiencing any symptoms or signs of a cavity? Don’t wait to call your dentist and stop that infection in its tracks!