Do you get nervous at the thought of going to the dentist? Well you are not alone.Studies have found that one in six Australian adults and one in ten Australian kids have fears about visiting  the dentist. Among specific population sub-groups, dental fear is even more common. Take middle-aged women, for example. One in three middle-aged Australian women is afraid of the dentist! Why? Procedures like root canals and cavity fillings have a bad name and have been stereotyped in TV and movies to add to that fear. But with modern technologies these procedures do not need to be feared. 

In this post, we’ll go over cavities, what they look like and how to prevent them so you can keep the dental drills out of your mouth and your fears at bay.

What Are Cavities?

Cavities are areas in the tooth’s hard surface that are permanently damaged. These areas begin as  tiny holes in the outer layer (enamel) of the tooth and without treatment continue to get bigger and extend further into the tooth.Cavities are often referred to as ‘tooth decay’ or ‘caries.’ There’s a reason your parents told you to stop eating so much sugar! A combination of factors, such as mouth bacteria, oral hygiene and diet (frequent snacks especially of sugary food and beverages) can cause cavities to form. So cleaning your teeth thoroughly and regularly goes a long way in decreasing your risk of getting cavities.

What Does a Cavity Look Like?

Food particles left behind on the teeth start to amalgamate with mouth bacteria. Eventually, a thin and sticky coating known as plaque starts to form. Plaque can also form on the gum line — this is how gingivitis, or gum inflammation, develops.

When cavities develop, you may notice:

  1. A section of your gum line becomes tender.
  2. A tooth begins to have sensitivity.
  3. A tiny white spot on a tooth.

These are signals from the body that a cavity has begun forming. The white spot, in particular, is a signal that the tooth is losing vital minerals that work to keep teeth strong, a process called demineralisation. As the cavity develops you may notice a dark area on the tooth or a sharp edge where the cavity meets the natural tooth surface. Food may also get more easily trapped in a cavity as cleaning it can be difficult.

Or, you may notice nothing at all! But, your dentist will. This is why regular cleanings and check-ups are so important in the fight against cavities.

Signs You Might Have Cavities

Now we’ll dive a little deeper into these cavity symptoms:

Aching Tooth

If your tooth starts throbbing and/or aching, this can be a sign there is a large cavity in a tooth that is close to the tooth’s nerve.. You may notice the pain flare up when you eat something hot, or cold and the throb/ache will generally last longer than just sensitivity and can last for minutes and hours on end.

Sensitive Tooth

You may begin noticing that one tooth, in particular, is a lot more sensitive to hot, cold or sweet foods and drinks than it ever was before. You might even start to wince when you take a sip or bite out of something hot or cold but the discomfort usually only lasts for a few seconds.

Tooth Discolouration

Whether it’s a white spot, dark spot or shadowing under the enamel. This can be an indicator a cavity has formed or something is affecting the structure of the tooth. 

Holes in Teeth

Cavities also present as small or large holes in the teeth. If you notice a hole in your tooth, you need to call the dentist ASAP. You may notice the hole because food is getting caught in the hole or you can see a dark area on the tooth when you look in the mirror.

Gum Swelling and Bleeding

The gum around a cavity can become  red or swollen. This is due to increased plaque or food trapping in the area causing inflammation of the gum (gingivitis).

Bad Breath

If your bad breath sticks around despite your best efforts, you could have a cavity. Persistent bad breath is also a common symptom of gum disease, so if you’re suffering from bad breath that just won’t go away, it is a good idea to have your dentist investigate the cause. 

Are Cavities Permanent?

Unfortunately, cavities cannot be healed or reversed by your tooth. But, the good news is that tooth decay can be stopped and even reversed if treated in its early stages before a cavity forms. ! Remember, as teeth decay, they lose minerals. So, if this is happening to you, there are some steps you can take to strengthen your tooth enamel and get your dental health back up to speed before a cavity even has the chance to develop. This is done by routinely brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing regularly to remove any food particles stuck to your teeth.

When Should I See a Dentist?

The Australian Dental Association recommends a person should visit the dentist at least once every six to twelve months. This varies, of course, based on each patient’s individual oral health and needs. Your dentist will be able to recommend the most appropriate time between visits based on the condition of your teeth and your risk factors for developing decay or other oral conditions..

If you start experiencing any pain, discomfort or the above-discussed symptoms, do not wait for your regular appointment and contact your dentist ASAP. If your teeth or gums begin to swell and become puffy and bleed or your teeth start aching, it’s especially important to seek dental care as soon as you can. 

Beaches Dental Mona Vale is here for you if you think you may have a cavity or any other dental problem. Experience the Beaches Dental Mona Vale difference and contact us today to request an appointment.