Can Cavities Go Unnoticed?

Cavities are always painful, right? This makes them easy to detect. If you don’t hurt, you don’t have a cavity. If only it were that simple . . .

The truth is that cavities can be very difficult to detect, especially for you. You may not experience any pain from a cavity until the decay has penetrated deep into the tooth, close to or even into the nerve cavity, when it’s too late for a filling and they need to be treated with a root canal.

Fortunately, dentists know where and how to look for cavities to try to find them before that’s necessary.

Cavities Where You Can’t See

Sometimes you may see a cavity developing in your mouth, but often cavities develop where you can’t see them. Cavities are actually most likely to develop where you have a hard time reaching when you brush, and if you can’t reach them, it’s a pretty good bet you can’t see them when you look in the mirror, either.

Cavities often form on the back surfaces of teeth, on the rear teeth, sometimes on the sides, and at the gum line. If you’re not flossing, you’re more likely to experience cavities on the surfaces between teeth. Cavities may even form behind the tartar that builds up because you’re not successfully removing plaque from these areas and it calcifies as a result.

Small Openings Reveal Big Cavities

Another problem that makes it hard to detect cavities is that often a large cavity might have a small opening. This is pretty common. Bacteria create a tiny cavity, which provides them some shelter from saliva and tooth brushing. In here, the bacteria are freer to multiply and consume sugars, creating more acid, which can dissolve more of your tooth, creating a larger cavity inside the tooth.

Detecting Hard-to-See Cavities

Dentists have many skills and tools they can use to find your cavities. First, they can look where you can’t, and they examine every visible surface of the tooth. They can tell where you can’t reach when you’re brushing, and after the hygienist has removed the tartar from your teeth they have a clear view of these areas and can see any cavities that might be hidden there.

Additional light, magnification, x-rays, and digital photography also give us a more complete view of your teeth.

At Ascent Dental, we’ve even got another tool in our arsenal for finding cavities: the DiagnoDent. This light tool penetrates into the enamel and can detect areas that either conceal hidden cavities or have been softened by bacteria or other sources of acid in your mouth. This tool means that even though cavities are not as easy to find as you might think, we can detect 90% of them early, which means smaller fillings and better oral health for you.

If you would like to learn whether you have any hidden cavities, please contact Ascent Dental in the Cherry Creek area of Denver today.