How to Know If you have Cavities
Nov 30

How to Know If you have Cavities - 10 Elementary Symptoms

Nov 30

If you are an adult living in the US, you are likely to have cavities once or even twice in your lifetime. No, it’s not us saying this. Instead, it’s the researchers who believe that Americans are more likely to get cavities as they enter their 30s.

Indeed, cavities are the most common dental diseases that affect almost everyone. In fact, the condition is believed to be more common than asthma in young adults. 92% of adults get cavities between their 20s to 60s. If you belong to the same age bracket, you are too on the radar. That said, how to know if you have cavities? What if you have had them for a very long time and didn’t know?

Not everyone can spot or interpret the symptoms of cavities, especially first-timers. So in this guide we will detail you on knowing if you have cavities between the teeth, their symptoms, and when to get them checked.

1-Second Summary:

If you have any of these symptoms, book an appointment with your dentist urgently; you will likely have cavities.

1) Tooth sensitivity

2) Sugar sensitivity

3) Discoloration

4) Toothache

5) A pit in your tooth

6) Bleeding Swollen Gums

7) Pus

8) Biting pain

9) No signs at all

10) Bad Breath

What are Cavities?

A cavity is a hole in your tooth. While it can occur on any part of the tooth, its common place is between the tooth - yes, exactly the area you need to floss. The next question is how cavities are formed. It happens when bacteria in our mouth leave acids that affect the enamel and make it erode. With time, cavities affect the other parts of the mouth, penetrate deep into the tooth pulp and cause sharp pain and swelling in the surrounding areas.

When cavities are left untreated for a long time, they become abscesses and cause tooth loss. In addition, patients living with untreated cavities experience weight loss due to eating problems and even an oral infection that can spread to the bloodstream in severe cases.

How to know if you have Cavities?

The signs and symptoms of cavities can vary depending on their location. Small cavities in their early stages cause no pain. The actual show begins as it grows and forms pits inside a tooth. If you want to determine whether you have cavities or not, look out for these symptoms:

How to know if you have Cavities between Teeth - 10 Signs

How to know if you have Cavities between Teeth

1. Tooth Sensitivity

The most common symptom to identify cavities is tooth sensitivity when you have hot or cold stuff.

Your teeth comprise different layers. When enamel is damaged due to cavities, it exposes dentin - the second layer, right below. When your dentin is exposed, you start to experience sensitivity when you have hot or cold beverages. Dentin has dentin tubules responsible for helping you feel sensations in your teeth. Therefore, when hot and cold food items hit the dentin, you feel discomfort, lasting for seconds to a few minutes.

2. Sugar Sensitivity

While hot and cold sensitivity is enough to figure out tooth sensitivity,  Dr. Inna Chern, DDS, founder of New York General Dentistry, believes that lingering sensitivity to sweets and sugary items can also point to cavities or tooth decay.

So if you have been feeling lingering pain from sugary items, it is often a result of cavities or damage to the enamel.

3. Discoloration

Dental cavities are a sign of tooth decay. It begins to exhibit itself more visibly on your tooth if it gets bad. If you see any kind of discoloration on your tooth, like a black or brown stain, it indicates that you could have a cavity. If the spot grows into a bigger stain, that means it’s a confirmation signal that you have a cavity. In some cases, the spots may appear light or off-white.

If you notice any such stain on your tooth with slight to no pain, you must get it checked by your dentist because you probably have a cavity.

4. Toothache

Ongoing pain and discomfort in one or more teeth also indicate cavities. The pain may be inconsistent. For instance, it may appear dull and occasional, from debilitating to constant. Some days go smoothly. Other days are painful when you eat something your cavity doesn’t enjoy. The pain may extend to the surrounding areas and radiate, especially when you bite a chewy, sugary food item.

Why do toothaches happen when you have cavities? It’s because when bacteria damage your enamel, it exposes the inner layer called dentin which is responsible for feeling sensations in your teeth. Hence, you experience inflammation which causes pain.

5. A pit in your Tooth

If you have tooth discoloration indicating a cavity, you will end up with pits in your tooth that may be visible when you look into the mirror or run your tongue over the impacted tooth.

Some pits may not be visible, especially in crevices between your teeth. However, you may still experience sensitivity and discomfort in that area.

It is important to consult your dentist if you see any pits or holes in your teeth because it’s a clear sign of tooth decay.

6. Bleeding Swollen Gums

Cavities are of different types and can appear in different locations in your mouth. For instance, some may settle around your gum line and exhibit symptoms in that area.

If you notice your gums swelled up or experience bleeding in that area, especially when you brush or floss, immediately schedule an appointment with your dentist. While it indicates cavities, there could be gingivitis as well.

7. Pus

If a cavity is left untreated for a long time, pus occurs in that area and worsens the situation. Finally, it turns into an abscess that must be handled right away.

Pus and abscess are painful dental conditions characterized by fever and swollen glands. In such conditions, the dentist recommends cavity filling to fix and prescribes antibiotics to manage the pain. However, the abscess is a worse condition. It can spread to other areas and can eventually lead to bigger problems.

8. Biting Pain

When you have toothache while biting, you likely have a cavity. General pain is there in other dental conditions, but if it worsens, especially while chewing or biting, it indicates a cavity. It is more common for back teeth, which help you chew food. In some cases, severe pain can change the way you eat entirely.

9. No Signs at All

One weird thing about cavities is that they don’t always exhibit symptoms, especially in the early stages.

In the beginning, when the cavity is settling in, you experience no to minimal signs; however, as it elevates, it worsens, practically begging to get treated. That’s why you must show up for regular checkups at your dentist.

10. Bad Breath

Cavities are formed by a bacterial infection that affects all the areas surrounding that tooth and produces waste.

You probably have cavities if you notice bad breath and a taste in your mouth. These symptoms can be difficult to hide and can be quite embarrassing if you are at work or somewhere outside.


These were the symptoms of cavities that may appear from time to time. That said, not everyone experiences all the symptoms. They may vary from person to person as well as the severity of the condition.

If you notice any such signs, it is best to see a dentist to check them in time. Also, it is advised to appear for routine checkups and get X-Rays to prevent dental conditions in the first place.