What Do Cavities Look Like?

What Do Cavities Look Like

One of the most common dental health conditions is cavities. You have probably been told by your Molson Park Family dentist in Barrie that you have a cavity or two. You may not already know that you have a cavity because, in the early stages, cavities are hard to identify and cause no discomfort. It is only with routine checkups that a dentist can help identify a cavity. With that being said, the question you may be asking now is, what does a small cavity look like?

How Do Cavities Look Like?

A cavity looks like a hole. Cavities start developing due to the buildup of tartar and plaque on the teeth. The buildup promotes the growth of harmful bacteria, which often causes tooth decay. If the bacteria is on the gum line, it may cause gum disease (gingivitis).

While getting a checkup from an experienced dentist is always good, it is good to learn how to check for cavities at home. This is because the sooner you identify a problem and get it fixed, the easier it will be to save your tooth and avoid the need for an emergency dental service. The beginning of a cavity is indicated by a white spot on a tooth. The white spot indicates that your tooth is starting to lose minerals. This process is referred to as demineralization. If you don’t do anything to stop this demineralization process, the affected tooth or teeth will continue to decay. Eventually, a hole will develop, thus creating a cavity.

Full-blown cavities take time. How long it takes for a tooth to develop a cavity depends on several factors, including your eating habits and dental hygiene. Ignoring proper dental habits and snacking on sugary foods will speed up the formation and progression of cavities. The good thing is that a dentist can spot signs of a developing cavity.

How to Tell If You Have a Cavity

As aforementioned, it can be pretty hard to tell if you have a cavity in the early stages. That is why you need to schedule regular dental checkups. If you don’t get a checkup, you will not learn of a cavity until the decay gets to the dentin. When this happens, you will start experiencing pain when chewing, sensitivity to cold and hot foods as well as toothaches. What does a tooth cavity look like? It looks like a hole or a crack. You should also note that cavities come in many shapes and sizes depending on how long the cavity has been present and the extent of tooth damage. In some cases, you will not be able to spot a cavity until an X-ray is taken.

Here are some of the signs of cavities in the early stages:

  • Tooth sensitivity. If you start experiencing discomfort or pain when eating cold, hot, acidic or sweet foods and drinks, that is a sign you have a cavity.
  • Visible pits or holes in the teeth: What does the start of a cavity look like? Like tiny openings in the teeth that get bigger gradually.
  • Tooth discoloration: When a tooth has a cavity, it may appear brown, yellow or black in colour.
  • Pain: If you are wondering what does a cavity feel like on a molar, it may have throbbing pain. This often results from an infection. Throbbing pain also means the cavity has reached the center (pulp) of the tooth.
  • Bad breath: By now, you have the answer to how do you get a cavity. A quick reminder is that bacteria that cause tooth decay can cause bad breath.
  • Change in how your teeth fit together: Are your teeth no longer fitting perfectly together as they used to? This may be a sign of a cavity.
  • Tenderness or swelling in the gums: This is usually caused by an abscess. This is a pus-filled sac which forms around the root of an affected tooth.

If you have been experiencing any of the aforementioned signs, now is the best time to visit a dentist before the issue worsens. Failing to address a cavity problem on time will lead to more serious issues such as gum disease.

Cavities on the Tooth of a Toddler

Cavities do develop in toddlers too. This is because cavities are not an age-related issue. When you are lax about your child’s dental hygiene, plaque and tartar can build up. This causes cavities to develop. So what do cavities look like on a toddler?

Cavities in toddlers will look more like small white spots on a tooth or teeth. This happens mostly when a tooth has not been cared for properly. Over time, the white spots turn brown. When this happens, it means the cavity has worsened. It is good to note that cavities, even in toddlers, don’t always hurt. Even if your child is not complaining about trouble chewing or toothache, if you see any of these signs, you need to take him or her to a dentist.

Cavities Between Teeth

Cavities can form between teeth. Such cavities are known as interproximal cavities. As you may have guessed, it is a lot harder to spot such cavities because the teeth mask the early signs. What do cavities look like in between teeth?

A cavity that forms between teeth is usually noticed after the decay has progressed to the extent of breaking through the enamel to the tissue layer underneath, known as dentin. The dentin is a lot more sensitive to cold and hot. When it is exposed, you will experience tooth sensitivity to cold and hot foods and beverages. You may also experience pain when drinking and eating. When this problem starts, the best way to proceed is to visit a dentist.

Considering cavities that fall between teeth are hard to see, you may be required to get an X-ray image. If you are wondering what small cavities look like on a dental X-ray image, they appear as dark spots. The dentist can tell you the cavity’s exact location and the tooth damage’s extent. The best thing about getting an X-ray image is that it reveals other cavities that you may not be aware of. It also helps you better answer the question of what a cavity actually looks like.

How to Prevent Cavities

It is not impossible to prevent the formation of cavities – there are many things you can do at home to keep your teeth healthy. The key is to be intentional about oral health. Here are some of the best things you can do to ensure you never learn what a cavity looks like on the side of a tooth firsthand.

  • Brush and floss regularly

You should brush your teeth a minimum of two times a day. Flossing should be done once a day. You should also consider switching to fluoride toothpaste. Studies show fluoride toothpaste helps prevent cavities. Always ensure you take your time not to rush the process of brushing and flossing. Brushing should take no less than 60 seconds. Ensure you brush all your teeth, and don’t forget to scrub your tongue too.

  • Avoid foods with high sugar content

Foods that have high sugar levels contribute to cavities. You should limit your intake of drinks and snacks that are sugary. If you take something with a lot of sugar, ensure you brush your teeth afterward to remove the excess sugar from your mouth. High sugar levels promote the bacteria that cause tooth decay. You don’t want to see what tooth decay looks like on your teeth, do you?

  • Drink lots of water

Water is crucial for oral health. It not only rinses away food but also bacteria that cause cavities. Taking lots of water will help keep your mouth cavity-free and healthy. Drinking plenty of water every day also prevents bad breath.

  • Avoid acidic foods

Foods that have high acidity contribute to cavities. The acid in the food weakens the enamel and leaves the tooth exposed to decay. Reduce your intake of such foods as coffee, alcohol and soda.

Do Cavities Heal on Their Own?

Can a cavity go away on its own? The answer is no. Cavities do not heal on their own. They can, however, be reversed to some extent when they are caught early.

Considering cavities form due to demineralization, if a cavity is caught in the early stages, it can be re-mineralized. This is done using a fluoride treatment or switching to fluoride toothpaste. When done early, the tooth can repair itself to some level. Fluoride treatments can also help fortify a tooth against future decay.

Removing plaque and tartar buildup is the most effective way of preventing cavities. Stepping up your daily regimen is the best way to stop the progression or beginning of a cavity. You must make practice brushing and flossing your teeth every day. Moreover, if you are prone to cavities, you should consider talking to your dentist about using a different toothpaste.

Do you have a toothache or suspect a cavity? Molson Park Dental is committed to being your family dentist. Give us a call today for professional dental services and an individual approach.