Tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most common diseases to affect people of all ages. In fact, it’s the most prevalent childhood illness and the biggest reason why kids wind up missing school. But even adults who have always seemed to have healthy teeth can develop cavities later on in life.
Being aware of your oral health can help you to pick up on issues earlier, while they’re smaller (less invasive) and more affordable to treat. If you’re curious about cavity symptoms or commonly overlooked signs of tooth decay, here are few to be on the eye out for:
Sensitivity to Flavored, Sweetened Drinks or Foods
Having teeth that are sensitive to sweets is a red flag for cavities. But don’t be fooled. Just because you’re not eating candy doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Sweeteners in diet soda, coffee creamer, or sports drinks for instance, can set off symptoms in a matter of seconds. Anything with natural or artificial sugars in it can sometimes trigger tooth pain if it comes into contact with a cavity.
Food Getting Caught in Your Tooth When You Eat
Is there a spot that food gets stuck in every time you eat? Are you always having to keep a floss pick or toothpick handy when you’re away from home? It’s likely that the space that’s accumulating food debris has a cavity (or gum disease.) The open space inside of the tooth easily catches bits of food each time you eat — especially breads or meats — and can feel irritating until you clean it out. A typical healthy tooth won’t do that.
Floss Catching or Shredding in the Same Space
When you’re gliding dental floss up and down between your teeth, do you feel any rough edges? Does the floss catch on anything? Or do you notice that the strand of floss itself starts to shred in a specific area? Shredded floss is a common sign of a cavity or rough margin on an existing filling (which could be linked to new decay around it.) Don’t assume that all is well. Have our Mesa dentist check that tooth at your next visit to find out what’s going on.
Feeling Something Rough or Sharp with Your Tongue
As tooth decay ruptures through your outer layer of enamel, it creates a physical opening (cavity) inside of the tooth itself. When you take your extremely delicate tongue and run it over the area, chances are you’ll feel a rough or sharp edge where the enamel is compromised. Most likely the surface will feel completely different than all of the teeth around it.
Something Feeling “Off” When You Bite Down or Chew
Your occlusion (the way your teeth bite together) is like a fingerprint. No two people have the same biting pattern. And when yours gets thrown off even by a millimeter, you can tell the difference. Cavities are no different. If you’re biting or chewing and something feels “off” in a particular area, take note. It may be something as simple as something stuck between your teeth, but it could also be a symptom of tooth decay or problem with your dental work. Make a mental note of it and re-assess the area the next time you eat. Does it keep happening? Then you need to go ahead and schedule a dental exam. Remember, the earlier you catch tooth decay the smaller the treatment will be to fix it.
Pain and Discoloration: Are They That Common?
Most people tend to assume that if they have a cavity, they’ll see a dark spot on their tooth or feel a painful toothache. They may even expect there to be a visible hole that they can see once they look inside of their mouth. The truth is that cavities are usually only visible once they’ve gotten quite large or are already near the point of reaching your tooth’s nerve. And even though small cavities can sometimes be painful, pain should never be the factor for determining the severity of decay. In fact, extremely large cavities may never hurt at all.
And as for tooth pain that tends to suddenly disappear or go away on its own, take note: dying dental nerves can’t signal pain stimuli. The more aggressive a cavity gets, the more likely you are to not feel anything at all.
Gentle Dental Fillings in Mesa
Think you have a cavity? Are you due for a six-month checkup? Call Eastport Dental today to reserve an exam with our Mesa dentist.