How Do You Know You Have a Cavity?

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A cavity is generally identified by regular dentist visits or symptoms, such as cold sensitivity, biting sensitivity and throbbing pain. Find out how how cavities only show symptoms once they are more advanced with information from a general dentist in this free video on dentistry and oral health.

Part of the Video Series: Dental Health & Information
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Video Transcript

One of the most common questions that patients ask me is how do I know if I have a cavity? And it's an interesting question, because typically, when a patient suspects that they have a cavity it's because of they they start to have symptoms with a tooth which from a dentist's perspective, that tells us that it's an advanced cavity. What we mean by that is cavities typically start out very, very small, and let's go back and we'll talk about what a cavity is. What a cavity essentially is is it's a hole in the tooth left behind from the bacteria that kind of harbor around the tooth. And typically, cavities are caused by poor hygiene or high consumption of sugary beverages, things things of that sort. What happens though is these holes that develop start out a asymptomatic, meaning you typically don't even know that they're there unless you're going in for routine examinations. We typically find that as the hole advances and it gets bigger what it's essentially doing is it's getting deeper and closer to the nerve. It's once it gets to a certain distance to within the nerve that's when we start to see symptoms, so again, the question is how do you know if you have a cavity on a tooth? Assuming that you didn't see a dentist recently you would have some symptoms such as lingering cold sensitivity, possibly biting sensitivity, throbbing pain that could come and go, things that just don't seem right. A tooth that seemed normal one day, and all of a sudden it doesn't can typically be a sign that you may have a cavity on that tooth. Certainly, you can do a visual observation to look on the teeth, and what you're looking for is anything like dark lines, or anything that looks sticky. And typically, as a dentist, when we find that it gets to the point where you actually start to have symptoms with it that it's typically a much more advanced cavity; whereas, if you go to the dentist on a regular basis we can typically catch these before they present any sort of problem, but they can be caught based on the symptoms, and certainly by visual observation; how however, it is recommended that you get regular check-ups every six months so that we might find those before they start to become and give you symptoms and stuff like that.

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