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How Can I Tell if I Have a Cavity?

added on: January 26, 2024

When it comes to oral health, cavities are often associated with childhood, with visions of the dentist’s chair and a lollipop as a reward for bravery. However, as your dentist in Lake Oswego knows, the reality is that cavities can persist into adulthood, posing an often silent threat to our dental well-being. But how can you tell if you have a cavity? Here are some signs and symptoms to look out for. 

Signs of a Cavity

Recognizing the signs of a cavity is crucial for timely intervention. If left undiagnosed and untreated, a cavity can turn into a painful and often costly problem. 

  • Sensitivity

One common indicator that a cavity is lurking is tooth sensitivity, especially when consuming hot, cold, or sweet foods and beverages. 

  • Discoloration

Visible changes in the color of teeth such as darkening or visible holes or pits on the tooth surface may also signal the presence of cavities.

  • Bad Breath

While persistent bad breath may be a sign of several oral health problems such as gum disease, it may also be a symptom of a cavity.

  • Pain When Chewing

In some cases, adults may experience pain or discomfort when chewing, indicating that a cavity has progressed to a more advanced stage. 

Keep in mind that the best way to catch a cavity early is by seeing your dentist in Lake Oswego for regular dental check-ups. Your dentist can often diagnose a cavity even before symptoms become noticeable.

Causes of Adult Cavities

Unlike the conspicuous cavities in children’s baby teeth, adult cavities may be subtler in appearance but are equally damaging. At a glance, they might be invisible to the naked eye, nestled between teeth, or lurking on the chewing surfaces. These cavities, also known as caries, can be caused by various factors. 

  • Poor Oral Hygiene

One of the primary culprits to developing a cavity is poor oral hygiene. Inconsistent brushing and flossing creates a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, which produce acid as they feed on leftover food particles. This acid, in turn, erodes tooth enamel, paving the way for cavities to take root.

  • Diet

A diet rich in sugars and carbohydrates can increase the risk of cavities. Bacteria thrive on these substances, leading to the production of acids that weaken enamel over time. Unchecked, this process can result in the formation of cavities.

  • Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, which is a common side effect of certain medications or medical conditions, can also contribute to cavity development. Saliva plays a crucial role in neutralizing acids and maintaining a healthy oral environment. When its production is compromised, the risk of cavities increases.

How to Prevent Cavities

Preventing cavities involves adopting a proactive approach to oral health. Regular and thorough brushing helps remove plaque and strengthen enamel. Flossing is equally important as it cleans areas between teeth that a toothbrush might miss.

Maintaining a balanced diet and limiting the consumption of sugary and acidic foods can also significantly reduce the risk of cavity formation. Drinking water throughout the day helps flush away bacteria and acids, promoting a healthier oral environment.

Additionally, routine dental check-ups and cleanings with your dentist in Lake Oswego are essential for catching cavities in their early stages and addressing any concerns before they escalate.

While cavities may not necessarily be visible, their impact on oral health is equally significant. Understanding the causes, recognizing symptoms, and adopting preventive measures are vital components of maintaining a cavity-free smile throughout adulthood. By prioritizing oral hygiene and seeking regular dental care, we can preserve our teeth and promote overall well-being for years to come