Cavity Causes and Signs — and Ways to Prevent Them

Conditions in the mouth are linked to everything from headaches and diabetes to blood and heart diseases. Cavities are among the most common of these ailments. Read on to learn the causes and symptom of cavities, so you can identify them before they cause further damage.

What Is a Cavity?


A cavity is a hole in your tooth. The resulting decay usually goes deeper than your enamel, into the dentin of your tooth. If untreated, it can become infected, causing a toothache, sensitivity, headaches, jaw pain, and even blood poisoning.

There’s a normal level of bacteria in your mouth, especially after eating. But when normal bacteria combine with pieces of food, it has the potential to create plaque. Plaque is sticky, and if it’s not removed from your teeth, it turns into acidic tartar and begins to eat away at your enamel. Once through your enamel, it starts to eat at your dentin and then the nerves in your teeth. That’s when you start to feel pain.

Signs of a Cavity


Sensitivity or toothache

When your teeth become sensitive — pain or discomfort while drinking hot or cold items, eating sweet food, etc. — it’s usually due to an underlying cause such as tooth decay.

Bad breath

Our mouths have a natural ph level, and when this is out of balance due to leftover bacteria, your mouth begins to smell. If you have continuously foul breath, even after brushing, visit your dentist for an exam.

Changes in taste

Because cavities and plaque are a combination of bacteria and acid, it’s common that they not only produce a bad smell but a bad taste as well. If you continually have a bad taste in your mouth that you can’t attribute to anything else, you may have a cavity.

Dark Spots

Tartar is a visible substance, as it contains food particles. Because the tartar has formed a hole in your tooth, it’s likely that brushing will not be able to evacuate the plaque, which further exacerbates the issue.

If you see small patches of discoloration on or between your teeth, or around the gums, visit your dentist for an exam.

Prevent Cavities in Wilmington, NC


Regular brushing, flossing, and cleaning of your tongue can help to prevent tooth decay. Other things you can do include:

  • Reducing sugar intake
  • Reducing starch intake
  • Gargling water or mouthwash after each meal
  • Visiting your dentist for regular cleanings


Smith Family Dentistry in Wilmington, North Carolina, is there for all members of the family. We take care of regular examinations and cleanings, as well as cavities and other dental treatments. Call or schedule an appointment with Clayton Smith Dentistry today.