Closeup of young woman suffering from toothache at home

What Are the Common Signs You Have a Cavity?

Amount American adults over the age of 20, roughly 90% have had at least one cavity at one point in their lives. When a cavity is left untreated, it can lead to pain, infections, and larger health problems.

Many people might not realize just how important oral health care is. Since your mouth is the entry point to both your respiratory and digestive tracts, it means that your oral health is deeply intertwined with your overall health and wellbeing.

Cavity treatment doesn’t have to be a huge deal, but it can become more invasive and more expensive if you don’t get it dealt with soon after a cavity develops.

For this reason, it’s worthwhile to learn the signs you have a cavity. If you do notice that you have a cavity, you’ll definitely want to go to the dentist right away to have them look at it.

What Is a Cavity?

Plaque can form when bacteria and food build up in your teeth. This plaque contains bacteria that can produce acids, which can erode the enamel on your teeth.

The best way to get rid of plaque is to regularly brush and floss your teeth. If you don’t, plaque can build up over time. The plaque can continue to wear away your enamel and lead to cavities.

A cavity can eventually destroy your tooth if it is left untreated, as it forms a hole in your tooth. More serious complications can also arise from an untreated cavity. Some examples of this include an infection that gets into your bloodstream or a tooth abscess.

There are certain areas in your mouth that can have a higher risk of building up plaque. These include:

  • Between your teeth
  • Chewing surfaces of your molars
  • The bottom of your teeth near your gums

Your risk of a cavity can also increase when you frequently eat foods that tend to stick to your teeth. These might include:

  • Hard candy
  • Dried fruit
  • Soda
  • Chips
  • Fruit juice
  • Ice cream
  • Sugary foods

Cavities can form in both children and adults alike. This is particularly a concern for adults when their gums begin to reced, as it leaves the roots of their teeth exposed to plaque.

Common Signs You Might Have a Cavity

There are a number of red flags that you can look for to spot a cavity. Let’s take a look at some of the most common symptoms of a cavity.

Sensitivity to Heat and Cold

If you have a sensitivity that sticks around after you’ve eaten cold food or hot food, you might have a cavity. This is because the dentin of your teeth can be affected when the enamel wears away. When the dentin isn’t protected, the nerve and cells inside your tooth can be stimulated, leaving your teeth feeling sensitive.


One of the most common symptoms of a cavity is pain. If you have an ongoing ache in one of your teeth (or several of them) you will definitely want to seek personalized dental care.

Lingering Sensitivity to Sweets

People can also be sensitive to sweets when they have a cavity. This similarly results from enamel damage that leaves the teeth exposed.

Tooth Staining

Staining caused by a cavity usually appears on the tooth’s surface. This staining can be black, white, or brown. These stains can first show up as white in color before becoming darker.

A Pit or Hole in Your Tooth

If you allow the staining on your tooth to go untreated, it will end up becoming a pit or a hole. You might be able to feel this when you run your tongue over your teeth or see it in the mirror.

You might not be able to feel or see all holes, though. If it is located between your teeth or in crevices it might not be as easy to spot.

You will definitely want to seek cavity treatment from a dentist if you notice a pit or a hole in your teeth. This is a very clear sign that you have a cavity.

Cavity Prevention: What You Can Do

The first step in the fight against developing cavities is practicing good dental hygiene. Some of the best ways to keep yourself protected from cavities and other issues of tooth decay include:

  • Get regular cleanings and exams from your dentist every six months
  • Establish a regular flossing routine
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Cut back on sugary foods and avoid sugary juices and sodas
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day
  • Talk to your dentist about preventive products

It’s important to understand that while cavities start off small, they can lead to more serious problems if you ignore them.

If You Have a Cavity, Don’t Let the Problem Get Bigger

No one likes going to the dentist. It can be easy to try and avoid doing so even when you obviously have pain or discomfort in your teeth. However, if you ignore the signs you have a cavity, it means that you are allowing the cavity to get worse and potentially opening yourself up to other health consequences.

A cavity is not something you should just hope will go away on its own. The sooner you deal with it, though, the more successful your treatment is likely to be and the less invasive it will be.

Did you find this article on the signs of a cavity interesting? If so, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more fascinating and informative content!