Most people realize they have dental cavities either when they visit a dentist or have severe pain. Pain due to dental caries can range from mild to severe depending on its progress. In some cases, if the decay progresses very slowly, pain may be totally absent too. Rarely, it can also manifest as ‘sinusitis-like’ pain in the cheek bones, pain in the ears etc. In this post, we tell you about the 10 signs of dental cavities other than pain that you need to be aware of:
1. Chalky or opaque spots on the teeth
In a healthy tooth, the outermost layer of enamel is translucent and transmits the colour of the healthy dentine underneath it. One of the first signs of decay, it is often missed out by most people. The process of decay starts with removal of minerals, especially calcium from enamel resulting in chalky spots.
2. Food getting stuck between or on the teeth
This is one of the most common complaints people have, related to dental decay. Since decay creates ‘holes’ or cavities on the upper surface of the teeth or on the sides, the gap between the teeth is increased. This in turn causes food to get stuck between the teeth. When you attempt to use floss between the teeth, you’ll notice that the floss gets frayed easily.
3. Inability to chew properly with certain teeth
When dental decay progresses to the pulp (innermost part of the tooth with blood vessels and nerves) and the periodontal space (the tissue anchoring the tooth to the bone) pus is formed. This causes a person to feel pain while biting on the affected tooth/teeth.
4. Highly sensitive teeth
One of the first signs of dental cavities, sensitivity to cold foods is an indication that the tooth is still alive. There is a possibility of saving the tooth with a filling if treated on time. However, if you feel sensitivity and pain when you consume anything hot, it may be a sign of a dying or dead tooth. This may warrant root canal treatment.
5. Chipping off or fracturing of teeth
If you find your teeth chipping off when you bite or chew on anything moderately hard, it may be a sign of dental decay. The way the enamel (outermost layer of the tooth) and dentine (the second layer of the tooth) are structured, when the decay progressed to dentin, it undermines the overlying enamel. This makes the enamel vulnerable to fractures.
6. Darkening of teeth
Often people visit dentists for ‘whitening treatment’ for a particular tooth or a few teeth. Little do they know that darkening or teeth which were earlier fine is a sign of dental decay. Basically, when the decay progresses to the pulp, there is a lot of destruction of the dentine. This coupled with the fact that the dying or dead pulp produces certain pigments makes the teeth look dark.
7. Bad breath
The food getting stuck between your teeth if not removed properly can release putrid smells giving you bad breath.
8. Blood on your toothbrush
If the cavity is in between two teeth, there is a possibility for the underlying gum tissue to grow into the area. While brushing, this tissue can get injured and bleed.
Read: Why you shouldn’t neglect bleeding gums
9. Appearance of new ‘gaps’ between teeth
If the cavities in between the back teeth are large, over time, the teeth can shift leading to appearance of gaps between the front teeth.
10. Swelling in gums
When the dental decay reaches the pulp of the tooth and then progresses to the tissues surrounding it along with the bone, it generates pus. This can cause swelling in the gums and often has to be treated immediately.
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