Signs You Have A Cavity

Posted on 07/17/2018

Even with a lifetime of proper dental care and regular dental check-ups, cavities can still happen to you or your family members! At Panoramic Dental in Walnut Creek, CA, our highly-trained family dentists and expert staff can help pinpoint the telltale signs that you have a cavity forming. Servicing the greater Walnut Creek area, Panoramic Dental guarantees quality cavity diagnosis and treatments, helping to educate our patients about preventing cavities along the way. 


What Is A Cavity?

Cavities, more scientifically known as dental caries, are small holes in the hardened outer layer of the tooth, or the enamel. Cavities are most often caused by sugary foods that get stuck in the teeth, promoting the production of a bacteria called plaque. This bacteria turns sugar and carbohydrates (starches) in the foods we eat into acids, and these acids dissolve the minerals in the enamel that covers the tooth's crown. While they are too small to see at first, cavities get larger and larger over time. 

Sometimes, acidic bacteria caused by plaque can seep through pores in the enamel, initiating decay in the main body of the tooth, otherwise known as the dentin. As the dentin and enamel start to break down, the chance of a cavity forming grows exponentially. Tooth roots exposed by receding gums also can begin to decay if not taken care of, as the root's outer layer (cementum) is not as thick as the enamel. If these types of decay are not removed, bacteria will continue to grow, producing acid that eventually will get into the soft pulp and sensitive nerve fibers of the tooth's inner layer.


Symptoms Of A Cavity 


Tooth Sensitivity 

Tooth sensitivity is a common sign that a cavity has started to form, often occurring when one consumes hot, cold, and/or sugary foods or drinks. Tooth sensitivity causes mild to sharp pain in one tooth, or slight sensitivity at the top of a receding gum line. As the dentin of the tooth is less dense than the enamel, it can easily lose its protective covering from acidic bacteria, allowing these specific types of foods or drinks to reach the nerves inside the tooth; thus resulting in hypersensitivity. 

While tooth sensitivity can sometimes be tamed by special toothpastes designed for hypersensitive teeth, it's always better to play it safe by getting a check-up here at New Wave Dental Smiles. 

Bad Breath

As cavities are caused by acidic bacteria, that same bacteria can also cause an odor that results in bad breath. Bad breath is a telltale sign that a cavity has gone far too long untreated. Even with persistent brushing and flossing after the fact, this odor will not go away until the cavities are properly treated here at New Wave Dental Smiles. 

Cracked Teeth

Cracked teeth can be caused by accidents, or even by eating hard foods! When the tooth cracks, it leaves a space that harmful, acidic bacteria can easily seep into. Sometimes exposing the root of the tooth from within, a cracked tooth can easily lead to cavities building from the inside out. Regardless if you've noticed that a cavity has formed, it's important to set up a consultation with one of our dentists today, as cracked teeth gone untreated will lead to larger problems down the road. 

Dark Spots or Visible Holes 

A dark spot can simply be a natural stain on the tooth, but if that dark spot becomes slightly sticky, it could mean that a cavity is beginning to form. If you begin to notice a slight pain while chewing in certain areas of the mouth, it's important to check for small, visible holes that may have started in the enamel. Normally located near the dark spots, small holes indicate that bacteria from plaque build-up has started to deteriorate the enamel of the tooth. 


Toothaches occur when a cavity has reached the nerves inside the root of your tooth, and are most often noticed when eating harder foods. A toothache can also mean one or more of your teeth have become infected. If you have persistent toothaches, it's important to contact us immediately to schedule an appointment, as it most likely means that cavities have sat untreated for far too long. 


Cavity Treatment With Our Family Dentists 

Our family dentists here at Panoramic Dental are ready to help treat all of your cavity symptoms. We pride ourselves on our accurate diagnosis and high-quality cavity treatments that will help get your brilliant smile back to tip-top shape!

Fluoride treatments

If your cavity has just started to give you problems, a fluoride treatment may help restore your tooth's enamel, and can sometimes reverse a cavity. Professional fluoride treatments contain more fluoride than the amount found in tap water, toothpaste, and mouth rinses. Fluoride treatments may be liquid, gel, foam, or varnish that's brushed onto your teeth or placed in a small tray that fits over your teeth.


Fillings are the main treatment option when decay has progressed beyond the earliest stage. After drilling away the decayed areas, we then fill in the empty space with tooth-colored materials. Fillings are made of tooth-colored composite resins, porcelain, or dental amalgam.


For extensive decay or weakened teeth, you may need a crown — a custom-fitted covering that replaces your tooth's entire natural crown. Our general dentists will drill away the decayed area and enough of your healthy tooth to ensure a good fit. Crowns may be made of gold, high-strength porcelain, resin, porcelain fused to metal, or other materials.

Root canals

When decay reaches the inner material of your tooth (the soft pulp), or if you've cracked your tooth, you may need a root canal. Root canals repair badly damaged or infected teeth instead of removing them. During this procedure, the diseased pulp of the tooth is removed and medication is put into the canal to clear any infection. After clearing out the infected areas, the canal is then replaced with a filling or a crown. 

Tooth Extractions

If your teeth become so severely decayed that they can't be restored, they must be removed. Having a tooth pulled can leave a gap that allows your other teeth to shift. If possible, consider getting a bridge or a dental implant to replace the missing tooth.


Prevent Cavities From Forming Today

Quality time spent on good oral and dental care is crucial to preventing cavities from forming. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day, as well as flossing once a day are both integral to the health of your teeth in the long run. Here are a few tips that help to promote good oral health, as well prevent cavities: 
  • Brush your teeth after you eat and drink anything that isn't water. Carry a portable toothbrush with you so you don't forget to brush after you eat.
  • Avoid sugary and sticky foods that can get stuck to your teeth for long periods of time, thus attracting more cavity-causing bacteria.
  • Use mouthwash to rinse out extra food residue.
  • Chew sugar-free, ADA-approved gum. This will promote saliva in your mouth that washes out the bad bacteria.
  • Drinking lots of water helps wash out extra food residue. Some tap water also has fluoride in it that helps strengthen teeth against cavity-causing bacteria. 
  • Eat foods that promote good oral health, such as fresh vegetables and leafy greens. 


Contact Panoramic Dental In Walnut Creek, CA Today!

Signs that cavities have started to develop come in a variety of different symptoms, and it's important to recognize all of these symptoms early on to prevent severe damage to your teeth. Our expert general dentists and staff at Panoramic Dental are ready to help your family with all forms of cavity treatment. If you have any tooth pain, discomfort, or hypersensitivity, don't hesitate to contact us today to schedule an appointment!