How Do I Know If I Have a Cavity? 5 Possible Warning Signs:

Discover the early warning signs of cavities with Fort Washington Dental Associates' insightful guide. Learn to identify symptoms like tooth sensitivity and dark spots, and explore effective treatment options to ensure your oral health.
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Remember those days in elementary school when we were taught about taking care of our teeth? Brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, and visiting the dentist. 

For some of us, those memories may be distant and faded. But don’t worry, Fort Washington Dental Associates is here to help! 

We understand that life gets busy and it’s easy to forget the important things, like how to know if you have a cavity. 

That’s why this blog is dedicated to educating our patients on the 5 warning signs that may indicate a cavity is lurking. 

So, if you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity or pain, be sure to stick around and learn how we can help.

What Is a Dental Cavity?

Simply put, a cavity is a hole or a decayed area in a tooth. 

This may sound like a minor issue, but if left untreated, it can lead to serious dental problems. 

Cavities are caused by bacteria in the mouth, which produce an acid that eats away at the tooth’s enamel. This typically happens when the bacteria feed on sugars left in the mouth, which can come from constant snacking, eating or drinking sugary foods and drinks, or not cleaning your mouth properly. 

Over time, the acid from the bacteria can break down the enamel and create a cavity. If you notice any signs of a cavity, it is important to see a dentist as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

Does a Cavity Hurt?

The question of whether a cavity truly hurts or not is a complex one, since the level of pain varies from person to person. 

Some people may experience intense pain, while others may only feel minor discomfort or sensitivity. 

The pain associated with a cavity can also vary depending on the severity and location of the cavity, as well as the individual’s pain threshold.

As we discussed, when a cavity forms, it creates a hole in your tooth. This can be quite painful because sensitive nerves in your teeth are exposed. 

So, while not everyone experiences the same degree of pain, most people do find it hard to bear.

How Do You Know When You Have a Cavity?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably concerned about the possibility of having a cavity. And trust us, we get it – cavities are not fun. 

But luckily, there are some warning signs you can look out for before the situation gets too serious. 

1. You Have Sensitive Teeth:

Have you ever experienced a sharp, painful sensation when taking a bite of your favorite sweet or something cold? 

You may have chalked it up to sensitive teeth, but did you know that your tooth sensitivity could also be a warning sign of a cavity? 

When left untreated, cavities can destroy the tooth’s structure and even reach the root beneath the enamel. As a result, the tooth becomes more sensitive to hot, cold, and sugary stimuli, causing discomfort and sometimes even agony when eating or drinking. 

Additionally, bacteria from cavities can irritate the tooth’s nerve endings, resulting in heightened sensitivity to heat, cold, and pressure.

2. You Have Dark Spots on Your Teeth:

Have you ever noticed dark spots on your teeth and wondered what they might mean? 

Unfortunately, they could be a warning sign that you have a cavity. Dark spots on your teeth can be caused by decay that has eaten away at the surface of your tooth, exposing the darker dentin underneath. 

If you notice any dark spots on your teeth, it’s important to see your dentist for an evaluation.

3. You Have Bad Breath:

Bad breath can be incredibly unpleasant, not just for you but for those around you as well. But did you know that it could be a warning sign of something more serious, like a cavity? 

Yes, having bad breath may mean that you have a rotting tooth, and it’s important to take this symptom seriously. When cavities form, they provide an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. This bacteria can cause bad breath. 

One way to test whether your bad breath is emanating from your mouth is by licking the back of your hand and then smelling it after about 10 seconds. If the smell is unpleasant, chances are you’re suffering from bad breath. 

4. You Have Pus In Your Mouth:

Pus in your mouth is never a good sign and it can be an indicator of a cavity that has progressed into an abscess. As you know now, a cavity is a hole in your tooth that develops due to decay. However, if bacteria spread and infect the pulp or nerve of a tooth, it can lead to an abscess. 

An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms at the tip of the tooth’s root, causing pain, fever, swelling, and discomfort. It can even spread to other parts of the body and cause severe infections. 

5. You Have Swelling in Your Mouth:

Having swelling in your mouth is not only uncomfortable, but it may also be an indication of a cavity. This is because the cavity may have grown so large that the bacteria have spread beyond the tooth, causing inflammation.

This swelling may occur near the affected tooth and may feel like a tender bump or lump. In some cases, the swelling may even cause difficulty in opening your mouth, or lead to swollen lymph nodes on your neck. 

Swelling is a sign that your body is responding to an underlying issue, and when it comes to your oral health, a cavity may be the culprit. 

How To Treat a Cavity:

Cavities are a common dental problem that can cause discomfort and pain if left untreated. Fortunately, there are a variety of effective treatments available to help remedy the issue. 

Have It Filled: 

One of the most common ways to treat a cavity is to have it filled. A filling is a simple and non-invasive dental procedure that involves the removal of the decayed part of the tooth. This is followed by adding a filling material like composite resin, amalgam, or gold.

The process is quick and painless, and the filling material is selected based on the location of the cavity and the patient’s preference. 

With the right filling material, a cavity can be effectively treated, allowing the patient to avoid further complications or tooth loss.

Have It Capped:

For larger or more significant cavities, a crown is often the best course of action. 

A crown is essentially a cap that is placed over the tooth in order to provide added protection and support. This process typically involves removing a layer of the damaged tooth and then fitting the crown over the remaining structure. 

The end result is a durable, long-lasting solution that can prevent further damage and reduce the need for additional dental work in the future. 

A Root Canal:

If the cavity is left untreated for too long, the decay can spread and infect the pulp of the tooth. This is where a root canal becomes necessary. 

During the procedure, the dentist extracts the infected pulp and meticulously cleanses and shapes the interior of the root canal. 

In the process, the dentist will extract the infected pulp, meticulously cleanse, and shape the interior of the root canal.

Once the canal is cleaned, it will be filled with a special material to prevent future infection. 

While root canals have a reputation for being a painful and unpleasant procedure, the truth is that modern techniques and anesthesia have made them much more comfortable and efficient. 

How Can Fort Washington Dental Help Me With My Cavity?

Have a cavity that’s driving you crazy? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Lucky for you, Fort Washington Dental is here to help.

Our comprehensive care approach means that we’ll take the time to come up with a treatment plan that works for you. We have specialists in-house who can handle more advanced procedures, like crowns, and root canals in case your cavity has progressed. 

You won’t have to worry about being sent all over town for different appointments – everything you need is right here.

Leaving a cavity untreated can ultimately lead to catastrophic damage to your oral health. The cavity may continue to grow and eventually infect the tooth, the gum, and even the bone. The bacteria in the cavity can also spread to other parts of the body, potentially causing serious health problems. 

At Fort Washington Dental, we highly recommend treating cavities as soon as possible to avoid more serious dental issues down the line.

While you’re here for cavity relief, why not consider some teeth whitening, veneers, or deep cleanings to give your entire oral health a boost

In Conclusion:

Have you been avoiding the dentist because of a previous bad experience? Going to the dentist can be daunting and anxiety-inducing. 

Our team at Fort Washington Dental is here to put your worries at ease. We pride ourselves on being a compassionate, patient-centered dentistry that puts your needs first. 

Our goal is to provide you with top-notch dental care while building a trusting relationship with you. 

You can trust us to be ethical and honest with you, never pushing unnecessary procedures your way. Whether you have a cavity or just need a routine check-up, we’re here to help. So, don’t wait any longer and book an appointment with us today!

Visit us online, call us at 212-928-9000, or send us an email at to learn if our services are right for you.

Book an appointment today.

Iliana Cepero
Iliana Cepero
23:13 16 Jan 24
Dr. Lee was incredibly kind, clear, and thorough when I went for a consultation. Doctors who spend time explaining things to a patient and giving them the best and most affordable options do not abound these days. He is very smart too. Strongly recommended!
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