Dental cavities are decayed areas in the surface of a tooth. When a cavity begins to develop, you may not be aware of it. As the cavity continues to develop and enlarges, symptoms may appear to alert you to the fact that something is wrong. Having a cavity repaired by a dentist as soon as possible will prevent it from beginning larger and spreading more deeply into your tooth. Cavities that are left untreated can eventually destroy a tooth.
One of the earliest signs that you have a cavity forming is pain. A toothache or pain when you bite down may indicate the presence of a cavity. Tooth sensitivity, if you don’t normally have it, is also a sign, as is sensitivity or pain when you eat or drink something hot, cold or sweet. Dark brown or black spots on your teeth or visible holes in your teeth are indicators of cavities. If you have any of these symptoms or signs you should see a dentist right away.
Cavities are more common in the back teeth than the front teeth, which is why you usually feel the pain caused by cavities before you can actually see them. The back teeth are less smooth than the front teeth, so it’s easier for bacteria to collect in ridges of the back teeth. These teeth are also harder to clean, which allows a greater chance of food particles being left behind.
Because cavities form gradually and are often in the back teeth, you may have a cavity of some size before you notice any symptoms. It is even possible to have a cavity and never experience any symptoms at all; not even pain. Regular dental exams, twice a year, can catch cavities early. Some cavities can be seen by the dentist during an exam, while some can only be seen on X-rays. When a dentist finds simple cavities forming, they can be filled with either metal fillings or composite tooth-colored fillings.