Cavities are one of the most common dental problems your dentist in Lake Oswego sees and treats every day. Now, while a teeny, tiny cavity may seem like no big deal, the truth is, it’s important to treat any area of decay quickly to keep other problems from popping up. If cavities aren’t treated quickly, they can lead to an abscess or even tooth loss. However, a cavity may not always be easy to recognize on your own, so it’s important to know what to look out for.
4 Signs of a Cavity
Symptoms of a cavity can differ from person to person and can be pretty subtle, so much so that you may never have feelings of discomfort and you may not know decay is present until your next appointment with your dentist in Lake Oswego. Here are some common tell-tale signs that a cavity may be lurking in your tooth.
The most common sign of a cavity is, of course, a toothache. Tooth pain can occur suddenly, and there are many times when a toothache does not have any clear sign as to what caused the pain in the first place. However, any pain in the mouth is typically a sign that something is wrong, and you should schedule an appointment with your dentist in Lake Oswego. Most often, lingering tooth pain that lasts for a few days is a sign of a cavity.
Similar to a toothache, tooth sensitivity may also be a sign of a cavity. Unlike a toothache, however, sensitivity usually causes shooting pain when eating or drinking something hot, cold, or sweet and may not be persistent. Sensitivity can occur when the protective layer of tooth enamel is worn away, leaving nerves and roots exposed to heat, cold, sugar, as well as the bacteria that cause cavities.
There are also some key signs of a cavity that are visible such as tooth staining. While some types of discoloration are natural, such as staining due to coffee, tea, or red wine, other stains can indicate a problem. If you notice a new tiny white spot on your tooth or darker areas of brown or gray, it’s likely that decay is present and is progressing deeper into the tooth. Any new signs of discoloration should be discussed with your dentist.
Another visual cue that a cavity may be forming is a pit or hole in a tooth. These two symptoms may also start with a small white dot and progress into pitting. Now, keep in mind, some of the most common places for cavities to develop are between the teeth where you won’t necessarily be able to see the pitting. This is one of many reasons why it’s so important to see a dentist near you every six months.
How to Prevent Cavities
Besides seeing your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings, exams, and x-rays, it’s also important to make sure you’re taking great care of your smile at home. Some of the best ways you can help prevent cavities are to:
- Brush and floss every day
- Drink water throughout the day
- Limit sugary sweets and drinks
- Eat a well-balanced diet
We recommend that every patient visit the dentist at least every six months to check for any early signs of decay when a cavity is typically easy to fix with filling. More severe cavities may require additional treatment such as a root canal or extraction.