Believe it or not, 27% of adults over 20 have untreated cavities. While that may make them sound common — and they are — untreated cavities can cause problems if left alone for too long, and how common they are shouldn’t lead you to be complacent.
They can even lead to the tooth being removed if left to grow for too long.
Regular dental check-ups will mean cavities can be spotted and taken care of, but what if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while? How do you know if you have a cavity and should make an appointment ASAP?
There are some signs of a cavity you can look out for, and any of the following means you need to make an appointment now.
A cavity is no fun, and one of the worst signs you can get is a toothache.
Tooth pain can be a constant ache that is happening all the time and you can’t get relief from, or it could be in some of the following instances:
- When lying on that side of your face
- When putting pressure on it, such as biting down
- When you eat something hot or cold
It may be mild pain or severe, but don’t assume that because the pain is mild it’ll stay that way. Mild pain may be one of the beginning signs of a cavity but if left untreated, it can become severe as the tooth decays more.
That’s one of the reasons you should never delay treatment.
Although it may not be as much of a pain as toothache, sensitivity can be another issue. Maybe there’s some discomfort when brushing your teeth, or maybe hot food and cold food are really difficult to eat.
Some people have natural tooth sensitivity for their whole life. However, if your sensitivity has come on quickly and is in one, localized spot, it could be because you have a cavity there.
Either way, it can’t hurt to have sensitivity checked out by a professional. Even if it’s not a cavity, they can recommend products and techniques to help with this issue alone.
Brown or Black Stains
It’s good to have a look around your mouth every so often. Even though only a professional will be able to check if you have a cavity or any other oral condition, you can definitely spot some obvious visual signs on your own.
Brown or black stains on the teeth can be decay and therefore, a cavity.
Not every stain is one, since teeth will naturally stain over the years (especially by eating or drinking certain things!), but if you have it in combination with some other symptoms, it’s likely to be one.
And of course, just like sensitivity, it never hurts to have something checked out by a professional to assuage any concerns.
If it’s particularly large, one of the cavity warning signs is actually a visible hole in the tooth. This is often the case when an old filling has fallen out and needs to be replaced too.
It’s another thing that can be spotted by having a careful look around your mouth. Once in a while, open your mouth in front of a mirror and shine a bright light in there.
You might be surprised at what you see. Cavities are particularly common around the back teeth, so be sure to have a look there.
Many things can cause bad breath — even stomach ulcers — but a cavity can too.
This is because the decay will cause the smell. You may not notice, but someone else might — or you might taste something unpleasant in your mouth that comes from the smell.
It’s nothing to be embarrassed about, because everyone gets cavities, but it’s also important to get it taken care of.
If your oral health has declined or isn’t kept up to date, cavities are one thing that can occur, but swollen gums around the area will too.
If you notice that your gums are inflamed, red, or bleeding, you need to get a cleaning, but you also need to get checked for cavities.
This is why it’s important to have regular check-ups, as your dentist will be able to tell right away if something is wrong.
So What Do I Do About Them?
First of all, practice good cavity prevention by doing the following:
- Brush your teeth twice a day
- Floss regularly
- Visit the dentist every six months for regular check-ups
- Keep a keen eye on your mouth
If you do all of these things, you’re far less likely to experience problems.
If you neglect your oral health for a while or over time, a problem happens anyway, a dentist can fix a cavity by filling it in.
It’s important not to delay going. Some people get embarrassed, but a dentist fixes cavities every day and it’s nothing they haven’t seen before! With 92% of adults having had a cavity in their life, you’re very much in the majority.
If You Spot the Signs of a Cavity, Don’t Delay
If you spot any signs of a cavity — even if it’s just one and you aren’t sure — it’s time to see a medical professional.
The last thing you want is decay getting so serious that you need a root canal or even a tooth extraction. There are fixes that are much easier and less expensive if you catch the problem sooner.
For more dental healthcare and tips, check out the rest of our site!