Most people deal with cavities at least once in their life. It is a common dental issue resulting from a combination of factors including bacteria in your mouth, frequent snacking, sipping on sugary drinks and not cleaning your teeth well after consuming food or drinks. Cavities, also known as tooth decay, refers to the development of a pit or hole in the hard surface of your teeth; it may affect the outer covering of your teeth, namely enamel or the inner layer called dentin.
The symptoms of cavity may not always be perceptible as it depends upon the size of the cavity, and the position of the damaged teeth. You may also not show any signs in the early stages. The symptoms will begin to appear and worsen as the cavity becomes more severe. Early detection of tooth decay is important because if left untreated, tooth decay can spread and infect other parts of the inner tooth like the pulp. Some early signs of tooth decay which are often not identified with it, and that you must watch out for to nip it in the bud are:
A tiny hole, pit or dent in the teeth is an indicator of tooth decay. In some cases the pits are between crevices or in between your teeth making it difficult to detect as you cannot see or feel it. This is one of the more evident symptoms that you or your child needs immediate attention from a dentist.
Failure to clean the teeths effectively often causes white spots to appear on them, this is an early indicator of developing cavities. If left unnoticed, the white spot progressively turns darker. The stains may be brown, black, bright white or any of its gradients. Tooth decay usually starts appearing on the surface of the teeth and upon leaving unattended, it begins to burrow, leading up to the nerves.
Tooth sensitivity causes mild to severe pain on contact with food or beverages which are cold, hot or even sweet. Sensitivity is produced by weakening enamels which upon decay leave the softer and porous dentin exposed. In the absence of enamel which protects the dentin, acting as a shield, hot and cold stimulates the nerves inside the tooth. Extreme temperatures can now pass through the dentin to the cells and nerves, inducing sensitivity and pain. Sometimes, even when you are not eating you may experience pain due to pressure applied when biting down.
Although it is uncharacteristic of a cavity to cause pain in the early stages of its development, if left untreated, the cavity could worsen and cause severe pain in your teeth. The pain may be persistent, and make it difficult to talk and eat. Toothache is a strong indicator of a cavity, and warrants an immediate consultation with your doctor.
Halitosis or bad breath is an oral health problem characterized by a foul breath. This is a rather vague sign for toothache because there are several causes of halitosis. Tooth decay is one among the many possible reasons. When a cavity develops, the infected area collects food particles, and becomes breeding grounds infested with bacteria.
Practicing good oral hygiene can prevent cavities. Good oral habits including brushing twice a day, flossing can go a long way in protecting your teeth against bacterial attack. In addition, regularly drinking water can help rinse the teeths and increase the flow of saliva are also preventive measures, as dry mouths lead to cavities.
Remaining wary of tooth decay, and paying attention to the early symptoms can help stop the deterioration of the cavity and seek timely dental care. However, sometimes there are no distinguishable signs of a cavity, and only an x-ray at the dental clinic can identify the problem. Regular check-ups are therefore essential to maintain good oral health. There are several treatment options for tooth decay like fluoride treatment, fillings, crowns etc. The right treatment would be determined by the dentist after evaluating the stage of your decaying teeth.
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