How can I tell if I have a cavity?
Unfortunately, dental cavities may not cause any symptoms until later stages so it is important to get regular check-ups and assessment with x-rays with your dentist.
You may experience sensitivity to cold, hot or sweet stimuli, bleeding gums, notice staining or discolouration of the tooth or fillings or cracked and broken teeth or fillings. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible for assessment and treatment.
Why do I have a cavity?
Our mouths, as with most areas of the human body, contain naturally-occurring populations of bacteria. These bacteria can accumulate on the tooth surface and, when exposed to carbohydrates such as those in our diet, they produce lactic acid. If left undisturbed, this acid can demineralise and soften the teeth allowing the bacteria to penetrate into the tooth causing damage deep inside the tooth causing cavities.
While the tooth has a very limited capacity to superficially re-mineralise through saliva and the application of fluoride, once the bacteria penetrated past the initial tooth surface (which can be visualised through the use of dental x-rays) the infected area of the tooth needs to be cleaned out, and the cavity filled by your dentist.
If left untreated, the decay can cause penetrate deeper and irreversible damage to larger areas of tooth structure and cavities requiring a larger filling or crown (Link to CEREC page) or affect the nerve inside the tooth leading to sensitivity, pain, infection of the dental nerve and tooth loss.
How can I prevent cavities?
- Twice daily tooth-brushing for 2 minutes with a toothpaste containing fluoride
- Regular flossing
- Limiting foods high in sugar and/or acid
- Regular professional cleaning and check-ups by a dentist or Dental hygienist