top of page

Symptoms of Cavities and How You Can Treat Them

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

A dentist examining a patient’s mouth for cavities.

According to the FDI, around 2.3 billion people suffer from cavities globally. Tooth cavities are not only extremely painful but can also have a significant impact on your overall quality of life. Unfortunately, there are times when you will only realize you have a cavity after the damage gets too severe. In this blog, we will discuss the various symptoms of tooth decay you need to watch out for, how they can be treated, and how to keep your teeth cavity-free.

What Are Cavities?

Tooth cavities are one of the most common dental problems. They are caused by the accumulation of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. Plaque produces acids that attack tooth enamel, causing it to break down and form a cavity. Cavities can also occur if the enamel is weakened by other factors, such as acid from vomiting or eating disorders.

Most cavities occur on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, where plaque is more likely to build up. However, cavities can also form on the front teeth, on the sides of the teeth, and even in between the teeth.

Cavities are not always visible, but they can be detected by your dentist during a routine examination. X-rays may also be used to identify tooth decay. If a cavity is not treated, it will continue to grow and damage the tooth. In severe cases, the tooth may need to be removed.

5 Signs of Cavities

A person suffering from toothache.

When you have a cavity, the enamel can erode to expose the inner nerves of your teeth, resulting in persistent toothache and increased sensitivity. Sometimes, you might feel a sharp, throbbing pain only when you bite down on something or brush and floss your teeth. However, it’s best to visit your dentist immediately when you experience frequent toothaches.

Sensitivity to Cold and Hot Food

As the enamel erodes and more of the inner teeth nerves are exposed, you will experience increased sensitivity to hot, cold, and acidic food. If a particular tooth feels a bit more sensitive than others, it might be a sign that the decay is more severe, and you should seek medical attention immediately.

Bad Breath

Bad breath that doesn't go away no matter what you do could be a sign of tooth decay. The bacteria in your mouth produce wastes that can alter your mouth's taste and smell. So you need to visit a dentist immediately for teeth cleaning, fillings, or other dental restoration procedures.

Swelling or Bleeding Gums

When teeth decay near the gum line, the infection can spread to the soft tissues surrounding them, causing swollen gums and bleeding. For some people, even brushing or flossing can trigger gum bleeding.

Visible Holes and Spots in the Affected Tooth

As the bacteria eat away at the enamel, you may develop stains or discoloration on the tooth surface. These stains can become darker and more extensive the longer you leave the cavity untreated. If you don’t practice proper dental hygiene, your teeth may permanently remain discolored.

Untreated tooth decay might also lead to holes in the teeth. This is because the bacteria are slowly eating away at the tooth and creating holes that you see clearly in a mirror. You can even feel the cavity when you move your tongue over the tooth's surface.

Common Treatments for Cavities

Though it’s essential to understand the warning signs of cavities, it is equally important to know what all treatments are available and how you can restore the tooth.

Root Canal

If the cavity is not treated, it will continue to grow larger and eventually reach the root of the tooth. At this point, the cavity will need to be treated with a root canal. A root canal is a procedure in which the cavity is drilled down to the root of the tooth, and the root is then filled with a material called gutta-percha. The gutta-percha will protect the root from further decay.


Fillings are one of the most common treatments for cavities, and they can be made from a variety of materials like composite and ceramic. Fillings are used to fill in the damaged area of the tooth and prevent further decay.


After the root canal, it is important to have a crown placed on the tooth. The crown will protect the tooth from further decay and also restore the tooth to its original shape and appearance.

Tooth Cavity Prevention Tips

Prevention is always better than cure. So here are a few things you can do to help prevent cavities.

First, be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day. Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, and be sure to brush all surfaces of your teeth, including the back of your teeth and the tongue.

Second, floss your teeth every day. This helps remove plaque and food particles from areas that your toothbrush can't reach.

Third, eat a healthy diet. Avoid sugary snacks and drinks, as they can contribute to tooth decay.

Finally, see your dentist regularly. They can help identify any areas of concern and suggest preventive measures when necessary.

Dental care is something that most people don't think about until they have a problem with their teeth. Unfortunately, once there is a problem, then it can be a little late. Nevertheless, treating cavities and tooth decay is crucial to your oral and overall health.

If you’re looking for an experienced dental team to treat your cavities in Coralville, IA, The Family Dental Center is your best option. Our team of specialized dental professionals will be able to restore your teeth to their former glory. Get in touch with us to book an appointment and start your journey towards better oral health.

1 view0 comments


bottom of page