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When it comes to dental health, a proactive approach is key. As your general dentist in Kelowna, BC, Discover Dental puts diligent at-home oral care, watching your sugar intake, and regular dental check-ups and cleanings at the top of the list. But we also think a big part of looking after your dental health is knowing when something’s a bit off. Like if you have a cavity.

So how to tell if you have a cavity? Here, Dr. Hallett, Dr. Carter, and Dr. Hayward share six common signs to look out for so you know if you or your kids need to see us ASAP for cavity treatment.

Sign #1: Holes in Your Tooth

Perhaps the most helpful thing to know is how to answer, “What does a cavity look like?” One of the most obvious signs of a tooth cavity is a visible hole, pit, or crack in your tooth. Initially small, cavity holes can grow larger, more noticeable, and sometimes more painful the longer they’re left untreated. A cavity left to its own devices can also turn into periodontal disease which isn’t curable (yikes!) but manageable with specific treatments. We can safely say, you don’t want a cavity to turn into gum disease if you can help it!

Sign #2: Tooth Discoloration

A second visual clue of a possible tooth cavity is discolouration. What does this look like? Tooth decay can appear as dark spots or stains on your teeth — discolouration that ranges from black, brown, to even white. If you see these colours on your teeth, you might have serious tooth decay that will eventually become a cavity and need treatment. Make an appointment ASAP at our family-friendly, Kelowna dental office. We’ll take a look and run through your options. You might need a cavity filling, or dental restorations to address the discolouration such as porcelain veneers or bonding.

Sign #3: Ow! Pain and Discomfort

Moving beyond what you see, you can also tell if you have a cavity if your tooth or gums feel different. What does a cavity feel like? Well, oral pain or discomfort is a significant indicator you might have a cavity. The experience can feel as mild as intermittent discomfort all the way to a throbbing pain. It can happen when you’re chewing, biting down, or as a constant ache. Tooth pain might be a sign of a tooth abscess — where the pulp inside your tooth becomes inflamed and dies.

Sign #4: Sensitivity to Hot and Cold

Ever taken a sip of hot coffee or eaten a spoonful of ice cream and felt a sharp pain in your tooth? This kind of tooth sensitivity is another common cavity symptom. Sensitivity to hot and cold foods or drinks can mean that a cavity has reached through your tooth enamel and dentin into the pulp where the nerves of your tooth sit.

Sign #5: Unhappy Gums

Even though cavities happen in your teeth, your gums can suffer consequences, too. So another way to tell if you might have a cavity is unhealthy gums, especially around the toothline. Are your gums swollen? Red? Bleeding? Contact the Discover Dental team so we can examine your teeth and gums for periodontal disease.

Sign #6: Bad Breath

Yes, we all get bad breath sometimes — think the aftermath of that garlicky hummus you ate at lunch or the onion rings you devoured at the baseball game. But persistent bad breath that lingers even after you’ve brushed, flossed, and used mouthwash can be a sign of tooth decay, cavities, or worse, gum disease.

How are poor oral health and bad breath related? A cavity adds another place for food debris and plaque to hide. Oral bacteria feeds off these and creates an unpleasant, sometimes sulphuric-like (aka rotten eggs) smell.

Cavity Treatment With Your Kelowna General Dentist

Fun fact, dental decay has been decreasing in Canada over the past 40 years! But that good news doesn’t mean we should do any less than our best for our oral hygiene. A preventative approach that includes thorough brushing and flossing, eating for strong teeth, and regular dental check-ups and cleanings go a long way in avoiding cavities. And as we’ve talked about here, knowing what a cavity looks or feels like can mean catching it early before it becomes a more serious issue.

If you’ve noticed one of the above signs of a cavity or need to stop in for that all-important, preventative check-up and cleaning, Discover Dental’s got you covered. As your general dentist in Kelowna, we can help everyone in your family with your oral health needs including personalized cavity treatment that will leave you smiling.

For comfortable, top-notch dental service, schedule an appointment at your Kelowna family dentist.