Signs and Symptoms of a Cavity

Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for a healthy smile, but sometimes even the most diligent brushers and flossers can find themselves facing a common dental woe: cavities. While often associated with childhood, cavities can affect adults too, and their signs and symptoms may differ from what many expect. Let’s check in with your dentist in Reno as we share some common things to look out for and how you can tell if you may have a cavity.

The Anatomy of an Adult Cavity

A cavity, also known as dental caries or tooth decay, is essentially a hole in the tooth. It begins as a small area of demineralization, where the enamel – the protective outer layer of the tooth – starts to break down. Left untreated, this demineralization progresses, forming a cavity that can eventually reach the inner layers of the tooth, such as the dentin and pulp.

Unlike childhood cavities that often appear on the chewing surfaces of molars, adult cavities can manifest in various locations. Common sites include between teeth, along the gumline, and even on the surfaces of existing dental work like fillings or crowns. Adult cavities are notorious for being sneaky, sometimes developing in areas not easily visible during routine brushing.

Recognizing the Signs of a Cavity

  • Tooth Sensitivity

One of the earliest signs of a cavity in adults is tooth sensitivity. If you experience a sudden twinge of pain or discomfort while consuming hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages, it could be an indication of enamel erosion. This sensitivity often progresses as the cavity deepens.

  • Visible Holes or Pits

As a cavity advances, it may become visible to the naked eye. You might notice small holes, pits, or dark spots on the affected tooth. These visual cues are often more apparent on the surfaces where cavities commonly form, such as the biting surfaces or the sides of teeth.

  • Pain or Discomfort When Chewing

If you feel pain or discomfort while chewing, it could be a sign that a cavity has reached a more advanced stage. The act of biting down can exacerbate the pain, indicating that the decay has progressed to the dentin or pulp of the tooth.

  • Bad Breath or Unpleasant Taste

The bacteria that contribute to cavities produce acids as they break down sugars and carbohydrates. These acids can lead to bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth. If you notice persistent halitosis or an unusual taste, it may be time to schedule a dental checkup.

  • Dark Spots on X-rays

During your dental appointment, your dentist in Reno will often use X-rays to identify cavities that are not visible during a routine examination. Dark spots on X-rays indicate areas of tooth decay. Regular dental checkups, including X-rays, are essential for catching cavities in their early stages.

Prevention and Treatment

Preventing adult cavities involves a combination of good oral hygiene practices and regular dental checkups. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing daily, and limiting sugary or acidic foods can help reduce your risk of developing cavities.

If you suspect you have a cavity, it’s crucial to call your dentist in Reno promptly. Early intervention can often address the issue with less invasive treatments such as dental fillings. In more advanced cases, procedures like dental crowns or root canals may be necessary.

Taking Action Against A Persistent Toothache

A persistent toothache is more than just a nuisance – it can indicate that an issue with your tooth needs to be addressed. Many people suffer tooth pain because that tooth has developed what is known as an endodontic issue, which means it is experiencing an internal problem. This can happen when a cavity has grown to the point that bacteria has been able to infect the living tissue within your tooth. A root canal treatment can put a stop to this problem, and eliminate related tooth pain. If you ignore pain or sensitivity, you can face a risk for suffering a potentially serious dental issue. Continue reading “Taking Action Against A Persistent Toothache”

Take Tooth Pain Seriously

take tooth pain seriously If you felt a pain in your tooth, how quickly would you reach out to your dentist for treatment? If you make your oral health a lower priority, or just hope that a problem will go away on its own, you could develop a real problem. Tooth pain could stem from a cavity that has infected the living tissue in your tooth. This is serious, as that infection can do irreparable damage to the tooth, and continue to spread beyond it if you do not receive a root canal. If you feel lingering pain after a tooth injury, it could mean that the nerves in your tooth are damaged, and need treatment. Continue reading “Take Tooth Pain Seriously”

Quiz: How Do I Repair a Chipped Tooth?


Have you ever suffered a chipped tooth? Our teeth can become damaged due to injury, possibly from playing sports or even biting down on a piece of ice or hard candy. What do you do when faced with a broken tooth? Dr. Evans and Dr. Wager explain how to address a damaged tooth and discuss our restorative treatment options.

Continue reading “Quiz: How Do I Repair a Chipped Tooth?”

FAQs: Why Do We Get Toothaches?


Have you ever experienced a toothache? An aching tooth can range from mild irritant to serious discomfort. What causes a toothache to occur in the first place? By understanding the common causes of toothaches, and what you can do to potentially avoid them, you can enjoy a healthier, happier smile.

Continue reading “FAQs: Why Do We Get Toothaches?”

How to Cure a Toothache

attractive woman with severe toothache There are many ways to describe a toothache, and if you’ve ever had one, then you probably know that most (if not all) of them are far from positive. For some, a toothache may be no more than a frequent nuisance, while for others, it can be the most excruciating discomfort they’ll ever experience. Even if you can stand your tooth’s sensitivity, you shouldn’t ignore it, since it may indicate a problem that could grow worse with time. Instead, Dr. Wager and Dr. Evans advise seeking treatment as soon as possible to address the cause of your toothache. Continue reading “How to Cure a Toothache”