A cavity can develop in your tooth because of tooth decay (caries). Caries is frequently caused by poor oral hygiene, which allows bacteria in your mouth to build up over your teeth in the form of a sticky layer of plaque. The bacteria in plaque produce acid that removes minerals from your tooth enamel, gradually eroding this protective outer layer of your tooth. Eventually, the inner part of your tooth called dentine is exposed, and this is much softer and less resistant to acid.
If you don’t receive prompt treatment for a cavity, it will get larger and deeper, and eventually, the infection will reach the central part of your tooth called the pulp. By this stage, your tooth is likely to be extremely painful and will need root canal therapy. There’s even the chance you may lose it. It’s useful to know the potential signs and symptoms because the sooner you can see a dentist, the better the chances of saving and restoring the tooth.
Signs that you may be developing a cavity include:
- Increased tooth sensitivity and especially when eating or drinking something very sweet or hot or cold
- The affected tooth may have visible holes or pits
- Your tooth might be painful when you bite down, or you may have noticed more persistent toothache
Tooth decay is one reason why we suggest regular dental visits and cleanings combined with good oral hygiene at home. A preventative dental care regime is your very best protection against cavities.