How do I Know if I have a Cavity?

We have all heard about the problems associated with cavities, but what exactly are they? What causes cavities, and how do you know if you have one? Drs. Gregory Bennett and Andrew Timmerman of Arvada Dental Center work routinely with patients of the Arvada, CO community to help them maintain healthy smiles and reduce their risk of developing areas of decay called “cavities.”

What is a dental cavity?

The team at Arvada Dental Center describes the dental cavity as a hole that develops into the natural tooth enamel. It is caused by bad bacteria in the smile that clings to sugars and carbohydrates to form an acid that disintegrates enamel. Even though tooth enamel is the strongest material in the human body, it is still susceptible to damage from cavities. With proper oral hygiene habits and regular visits to the dentist, many patients can prevent cavities from forming.

What are the causes of cavities?

Cavities are formed from food left behind on the teeth that interact with the harmful bacteria in the mouth. Sugars and carbohydrates left on the teeth allow harmful bacteria to thrive, turning them into acids that eat away at tooth enamel. This creates holes and, in many cases, deeper or wider areas of damage that may reach the dental pulp inside of a tooth. When a cavity becomes this large, it may require root canal therapy to save the tooth and keep it from requiring permanent extraction. Cavities are completely preventable with proper home oral care habits.

What are the symptoms of a cavity?

There are a few signs that may be noticed when a patient has a cavity. If any of these develop between regular dental visits, patients must make an appointment with their dental team for an evaluation. Many cavities caught in the earlier stages are easier to address and less likely to become a larger and more expensive problem later on.

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Bad breath
  • Discoloration of a tooth
  • Tooth pain and discomfort

What treatment might a dentist in Arvada recommend for cavities?

The go-to treatment for an area of decay is a dental filling. Dental fillings placed at Arvada Dental Center are made of composite resin materials that is used to fill the area after decay has been removed and the area is disinfected. The filling can keep the cavity from getting larger, deeper, and more damaging. In some cases where a patient has an extensive cavity, and the filling compromises the tooth’s structure, the patient might also benefit from a dental crown over the tooth as an extra layer of protection and strength.

How can I avoid cavities?

Cavities are entirely preventable with proper oral habits. Here are a few ways to avoid the formation of cavities to maintain a healthy smile:

  • Keep the teeth clean after eating by brushing whenever possible
  • Floss at least once a day to remove food particles from between the teeth
  • Visit the dentist every six months for prophylaxis (dental cleaning) and an examination
  • Call the dentist when problems arise, or changes occur within the smile
  • Be mindful of sugary foods and beverages that you consume regularly

How do I schedule a dental cleaning and exam in Arvada, CO?

The first step towards a healthier smile is an appointment with Drs. Gregory Bennett and Andrew Timmerman of Arvada Dental Center. Call (303) 720-7465 to request a visit to our practice, conveniently located at 5220 Wadsworth Bypass, Unit C. Whether you need a simple evaluation or full mouth reconstruction, our team of providers can assist in helping you. We want patients to achieve a healthier, more beautiful smile they are confident to share with others!


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