Woman holding up a graphic of a mouth with cavities on teeth.

All About Cavities: Early Signs & Symptoms Plus Tips for Prevention

Although it’s not very fun hearing you have a cavity, they do happen. You may remember being a kid and having a sweet tooth. Perhaps you forgot to stay on top of annual visits to the dentist or fail to floss as often as you should. After all, anyone can get cavities. The important thing is understanding the signs and symptoms of a cavity and seeking treatment so you can keep your teeth healthy!

Let’s discuss cavities and what they look like on teeth. We’ll talk about identifying early signs and symptoms, plus tips for preventing cavities and why you and your children might want to consider using an electric toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque and maintain healthy chompers and gums!

What is a Cavity?

A cavity is a physical hole in your tooth. They form because of enamel erosion in the outer layer of your tooth enamel, typically due to an excess of plaque acids. As they build up over time, these plaque acids wear on the enamel and cause tooth decay.

How Long Do Cavities Take to Form?

Cavities can take anywhere from several months to years to form. The process begins with demineralization, which is the first sign of tooth decay, before proceeding to enamel and dentin decay. However, a cavity may not form for several years depending on your oral hygiene habits.

Close up of what a cavity looks like during a dental examination.

What Do Cavities Look Like?

Cavities often appear as a spot on your tooth that can look yellow or brown. An early cavity, however, may be harder to spot and may have a white or chalky appearance on your enamel. This occurs because of the demineralization and drying out of your enamel.

The stages of a cavity may also differ depending on the severity and location. For example, cavities in between your teeth may be impossible to spot or look like darker triangular spots. Additionally, a cavity on a front tooth or molar may be deceiving because it may simply look like a stain from food. Alas, it can be extremely difficult to see the early physical signs of a cavity on your own.

So, given that the physical appearance of a cavity may go unnoticed or be hard to spot, what are some other signs you might have a cavity?

Symptoms of a Cavity

You may not have any symptoms during the early stages of a cavity. However, over time, you may see or experience some of the following symptoms.

  • Sudden tooth pain or toothaches without an apparent cause.
  • Tooth sensitivity, particularly when you eat or drink sweet, hot, or cold items or consume acidic food or beverages.
  • Brown, black, or white staining on any surface of your tooth or teeth.
  • Pain when you bite into something or try to brush your teeth.
  • In some cases, you may experience bad breath or facial swelling.
  • Bleeding gums.

While these are all possible symptoms of a cavity, they could also be a sign of gum disease or dental injury. Consult your dentist if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Can You Stop a Cavity from Getting Worse?

You cannot reverse a fully-formed cavity and should not let it go untreated. However, if you fear you or your kids have a cavity and cannot see the dentist immediately, brush gently and consider using a mouthwash or saltwater rinse if recommended by a health profressional.

Moreover, you want to stay away from any foods or drinks that may cause the cavity to expand. That means avoiding drinking coffee or soda and staying away from candies, cookies, and ice cream, as tempting as they might be!

It should be noted that brushing and flossing consistently can help limit the demineralization process before enamel decay begins. However, you cannot do anything to naturally reverse a cavity once it is fully formed.

In conclusion, get professional assistance from a dentist as soon as you are able.

Man looks in the mirror while brushing his teeth with an electric toothbrush.

Helpful Tips for How to Prevent Cavities

Hopefully, you and your kiddos won’t need to worry about spotting early signs of a cavity or feeling any symptoms if you practice steady oral hygiene and work hard to try to prevent them! Here are some strategies for how to prevent cavities:

1. Brush and Floss Regularly

Keeping your teeth clean by brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing consistently can help you remove plaque and maintain a strong enamel. Bacteria build up in your mouth and on your teeth at night, so taking steps to clean them daily helps remove lingering food particles and staining. You should also use a soft-bristled toothbrush when brushing.

It’s every bit as important to get your kids to brush their teeth , too! Instruct them on brushing on the surface of their teeth and around the gums and make sure they are rinsing and spitting appropriately. Most kids should be ready to brush their own teeth when they are around 7 or 8 years old, but you want to help instill proper brushing habits before then!

2. Find the Best Electronic Toothbrush for You!

If you brush and floss regularly but still wonder if you’re doing enough to protect your pearly whites, you might consider using an electric toothbrush!

Electric toothbrushes put in the extra work to help remove plaque and keep your teeth clean. An electric toothbrush removes up to 70% more plaque than a manual brush in hard-to-reach places. That can be useful for anyone, including your child if they have braces !

An electric toothbrush offers far more strokes per minute as the bristles clean around and in between teeth with every rotation. Plus, studies have shown an 18% reduction in tooth decay and cavities among electric toothbrush users compared to people who use a manual toothbrush.

Convinced about making the switch from manual to electric? Spinbrush™ has a variety of toothbrush options for kids and adults, including:

*when used with regular toothpaste.

**vs. a manual toothbrush at the gumline upon single use.

Plus, Spinbrush™ has character connections that age with your kids! If they’re over PAW Patrol™, maybe you can get their spidey senses tingling with the Spider-Man™ Kid’s Spinbrush™ Toothbrush, or level up (get it?) with Super Mario™ Kid’s Spinbrush™ Toothbrush!

So, what are you waiting for? Check out Spinbrush™ toothbrushes and see which electric toothbrush works best for you or your kid(s)!

3. Avoid Sugary Foods & Drinks

Did you have an extra slice of cake at a birthday celebration or let your kid drink a juice box after a morning soccer game? That’s all well and good! Just try not to make some of those indulgences a habit.

Sugary and starchy foods and drinks can wear on your enamel if they are a steady part of your diet. These foods and drinks interact with the bacteria in plaque to produce acid, which in turn can contribute to tooth decay.

It’s not necessarily just the sweet stuff that can have this effect on the health of your teeth and gums! You may need your morning cup of coffee or nighttime glass of wine after a long day. However, do your best to cut back when you can, and keep brushing and flossing regularly!

4. Schedule Check-Ups with Your Dentist

Going to the dentist isn’t just a way to know whether you have a cavity. It’s also one of the best ways to avoid getting one altogether.

Dentists provide extremely thorough cleanings and inspections of your teeth. They can use scraping tools and more to help remove plaque so your chompers, gums, and enamel can maintain good health. And they’ll also take X-rays to examine your mouth for cavities or any other possible issues, should they exist.

You should see your dentist at least once a year for routine cleanings. Of course, if you experience any symptoms of tooth decay or feel you may have a cavity or oral injury, you should also schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

Keep Cavities Away & Smile All Day!

Don’t let the thought of cavities put a “hole” in your day! Make brushing and flossing a fun part of you and your kids’ days, and try any of the Spinbrush™ electric toothbrushes for an experience that will have the whole family grinning from ear to ear!