As is the case with most other health issues or problems, early detection for these conditions is extremely important. Not only does it make the problem generally easier to treat, but it also helps mitigate further complications that can arise from not treating it in a timely fashion. Cavities are no different.
Early detection of decay so that it can be removed right away is the best way to keep a cavity from spreading. On the other hand, a cavity that is left untreated can lead to a vast number of complications, such as problems chewing, food traps, pain or discomfort, abscess or infection, and ultimately tooth loss.
For these reasons, it is important to have regular dental visits every 3-6 months so that your dentist can examine each tooth individually and ensure no decay or other dental problems are present.
Here at Monrovia Family Dentistry, we carefully watch for early warning signs of decay, and make sure your teeth and gums remain as healthy as possible. It’s important that our patients have the best quality dental care around, and your oral health is our main priority.
Below we go into a little more detail about four of the major signs that you may have a cavity. Please call us if you have any questions whatsoever.
Pain or discomfort with any one of your teeth is never normal and is definitely a cause for concern. If you are experiencing pain in a tooth/teeth, it is a good idea to pick up the phone and make a dental appointment as soon as possible.
At this appointment, your dentist or dental assistant will generally start off by asking about your discomfort, followed by taking a digital x-ray, which emits far less radiation than traditional x-rays of the tooth/teeth in question. Once the images are taken and displayed on the monitor, the dentist will conduct a visible inspection.
By examining the tooth’s current condition through the scope and viewing the digital x-ray on a large monitor, the dentist will then recommend the best course of action in order to restore the tooth to it’s most natural form and anatomy.
Under many circumstances, a dental filling is recommended. This procedure entails your dentist using a fine burr to remove any decay present. Then, the eroded tooth structure is reconstructed using tooth colored dental composites, which are extremely strong and durable and look like your natural tooth.
If the decay is affecting most of the tooth’s integrity, and a there isn’t enough tooth structure to fully support a filing, a dental crown is generally your best option. A crown, commonly known as “cap”, is an artificial metal or porcelain tooth that is permanently cemented on top of your existing tooth after it’s been prepared.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:
Just because you are not in pain does not mean that you are cavity free. Decay can form and spread easily, especially in between your teeth which is not generally visible to the naked eye. Regular dental appointments with dental examinations are the only way to know for certain whether or not you have a cavity.
While a tooth can be sensitive for a number of reasons, it may also be a sign of a cavity. Often times, tooth sensitivity can be caused by a breakdown on the enamel due to consumption habits, certain medicines, genetics, and of course, decay.
If after thorough examination no decay is present, a fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash can help you to strengthen your enamel. There are also special treatments that can help remineralize the teeth, also helping to mitigate or reduce the sensitivity.
However, if a tooth is severely sensitive to hot or cold, there’s a decent chance that it could be infected. An infected tooth, called an abscess, is a very serious, even life threatening condition at it’s worst. If the infection is left untreated, it can spread to other parts of your body and cause sepsis.
Naturally, there are many causes for bad breath. After all, if your diet consists of lots of garlic and onions, you may find that you’re not exactly the life of a party!
All joking aside, the bacteria in decay gives off a very unpleasant smell. When a cavity has formed, this build up of bacteria in your mouth can cause your teeth and breath to smell bad. People who have untreated periodontal disease can also experience bad breath.
Loss of a Filling or a Fracture
Just because you’ve had a tooth filled before, doesn’t mean that tooth cannot get a cavity. It is somewhat common for tooth decay to form around an old filling. After a long time, fillings can break down and even crack, catching food and bacteria.
In addition, if you have a filling that has fallen out, it is recommended that it’s refilled immediately. That way, the tooth can be restored to it’s natural state and will be fully supported to help maintain proper chewing function and avoid further erosion.
The only way to be certain that no tooth decay is present, is to see a dentist. Pain often does not accompany a cavity until it grows and becomes a serious problem.
That is why regular dental visits are so important. Don’t have a regular dentist? Get in touch if you’re in the Plainfield, Mooresville, Danville, or Martinsville area southwest of Indianapolis and Monrovia Family Dentistry can help keep your teeth healthy.