How do I Know if I have a Cavity?

When the bacteria that form plaque on your teeth come in contact with sugars in your mouth, they produce acids that eat away your teeth. Your body’s first line of defense is the tooth’s enamel—this hard, protective shell of the tooth protects the softer structure within. This soft core is made of a material called dentin. When acids on the teeth eat away the enamel break through and begin eating the dentin within, this is how cavities are formed.

How a Cavity is Detected

Unless you can spot cavities in your mouth with the naked eye, there are really only two ways you can know if you have a cavity. The first is detection by a dentist. In your semi-annual appointment for a regular dental exam and cleaning with your Platinum Dental Care dentist, your dentist will use a hook-like tool to poke at your teeth. If they feel a soft spot on the tooth’s surface, they know the enamel has been eaten away and that decay within is likely.

Suggested Reading: Six Things You Ought to Know About Cavities

A second way that you might detect a cavity is that the decay has infiltrated the dentin so deep that a nerve has been affected, resulting in a tooth ache. At this point, your cavity may be beyond what a filling can fix and you may need a root canal. Oftentimes when a tooth has reached this state, the inside looks as if an explosion has happened within the tooth, as revealed by x-ray.

What to Expect When You Get a Filling

When the dentist fills your cavity he clears out all of the infection to prevent further decay, often using a small drill. Once the decayed tooth is cleared out, your dentist will fill the remaining hole with a metallic or white material, depending on what you prefer. Filling the cavity will preserve your tooth, because if your cavity is ignored the decay will continue (until the tooth dies… which is an incredibly painful process).

Unlike your body, your mouth’s immune system cannot attack, prevent, or slow the activity of bacteria that cause tooth decay. The only way to stop the expansion of a cavity is to clear it out and fill it. But the best way to prevent cavities altogether is by brushing twice a day and flossing every day, following up with your dentist for an exam every 6 months.

Dr. Ferguson, a periodontist in Utah for Platinum Dental Care. He serves Platinum Dental patients at all 11 locations, which makes him easily accessible no matter where you live in Utah. If you need a Periodontist in Utah, a general dentst in Utah, or a cosmetic dentist in Utah, call 801.806.4645 to schedule an appointment!