A lot of people experience cavities in their lifetime. It’s a common occurrence and usually cannot be noticed until its last stages of development. But, as humans, we can immediately feel if something isn’t right in our bodies.

That’s why you should follow your instincts and try to solve the problems as soon as possible. If left untreated, cavities will develop further and do immense damage to your oral health.

The best way to find out whether you have a cavity is to schedule an appointment at a dental clinic. In the meantime, read this useful guide on what to expect from cavities:

The Anatomy of a Tooth

Before we get into the signs, let’s go through some useful basics.

Teeth consist of three layers: enamel, dentin, and pulp. For a cavity to reach the pulp, it must go through the enamel first and the dentin afterward. 

The pulp is the most sensitive since that is where the nerve endings are located. The enamel is a protective layer that isn’t connected to any nerve endings and therefore, isn’t as sensitive. Being in the middle and closer to nerve endings, dentin is sensitive to pain, but not as much as the pulp.

Why are Cavities Painful?

We mentioned how usually they are noticed in their last stages, but why?

The pain we experience due to cavities is related to nerve endings. After all, the feeling of pain is just neural signals travelling between the brain regions and the rest of our bodies.

When it comes to teeth, we experience pain according to the progression of the cavity. When it is in the enamel, we only feel slight sensitivities to temperature variations, but as it moves deeper inside the layers, we start to feel more pain and discomfort. 

Signs in the Early Stages

Since toothache can happen for several reasons, detecting a cavity can be hard, especially in its early stages. That is why annual dental inspections are necessary.

When the cavity is treated early on, we get to avoid certain uncomfortable situations such as full teeth extractions. On the other hand, if it reaches the pulp, then certain nerve endings might even die, requiring RCT (root canal treatment).

Here are some signs that might appear in the early stages of cavity development:

  • Sensitivity to hot or cold food and beverages
  • Slight, but sharp pain while eating
  • Sensitivity to temperature variations and cold air
  • Unpleasant breath

Signs in the Progressive Stages

As the cavity progresses, we start to feel more pain. If it has reached the pulp, the pain will be continuous and too hard to handle. Noticing any of these signs requires consultations with an expert dentist.

The most important thing is to keep on brushing even while you are experiencing cavity pain. The reason why the cavity appeared in the first place is poor oral hygiene.

Here is what to expect when a cavity starts reaching the dentin and pulp:

  • Black spots or holes in your teeth
  • Food getting stuck inside your tooth
  • Sharp and continuous pain
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch, food, drinks, and weather
  • Cracks in the tooth or missing parts