Wondering if that tooth pain or sensitivity you feel is a cavity? According to the National Oral Health Survey of India, 79.2 percent people are affected from dental caries in the 35-44 year age group population. If you're one of the lucky few who has never experienced tooth decay, you're probably curious about what a cavity feels like. The answer depends on the stage of decay. Read on to learn what cavities feel like and what you should do if you start to feel cavity pain.
How to Tell If You Have a Cavity
Cavities, also known as dental caries, form when the bacteria in plaque feed off the sugar from foods you eat and release acid. When not cleaned off quickly enough, this acid is strong enough to wear away your tooth's enamel. Because there are no nerves in the enamel, you probably won't be able to feel the cavity forming in the early stages of tooth decay. Once the decay progresses to reach the softer tissues inside the tooth where the dentin and nerves live, you might notice these signs of a cavity:
- Tooth pain or sensitivity. The dentin contains microscopic tubules filled with tiny nerve endings. When this area is exposed, your teeth can become especially sensitive to hot, cold, acidic, and sugary (sticky) foods and beverages. It also might cause a toothache or sharp pain when you bite down.
- Holes or pits in your teeth. When the enamel wears away, you may be able to feel a rough patch on your tooth with your tongue. These holes and pits can also catch food, and — depending on the size of the cavity — you may even be able to see the evidence of it in your mouth.
- Black, brown, or white stains. Sometimes the food or drinks you consume can cause surface stains on your tooth; however, cavities can also appear as white, brown, or black spots on your teeth. Mouth Healthy explains that throughout the day, bacteria feed off the foods we eat. When we eat or drink sugar, the bacteria in our mouths use it to live and make acid. This acid stays on our teeth and attacks the outer surface of our teeth. Over time, the acid wears down our teeth, causing a cavity. A cavity is a hole in your tooth. A cavity in an early stage can look like a white spot, which can be healed. Over time, it will look like a brown or black spot.