5 Symptoms of a Cavity

Your teeth are covered with a layer of enamel, which is the strongest material in your entire body. However, your teeth can still suffer decay, leading them to develop tiny holes called cavities. It’s important to learn the symptoms of cavities so you can catch them and get them treated before they get worse. 

At Morning Dental, we understand that dental visits aren’t a lot of fun, but we work hard to make you comfortable and make your treatments go smoothly. Our skilled and experienced dentists, Bao Nguyen DDS and Michael Florman DDS, provide a full range of dental services to give you healthy teeth and a gorgeous smile. They have the tools to diagnose and treat cavities and also the care to help you avoid them in the first place. 

What is a cavity?

A cavity is a tiny permanent hole in the surface of your tooth. Cavities are the result of tooth decay, which causes weakening of the outer layer of enamel that protects your teeth. A cavity can be in the outer layer of your tooth, which is made up of hard enamel, or can progress into the next layer, called dentin.  

5 symptoms of a cavity

Sometimes when a cavity has recently formed and is still small, you may not feel anything and you may not be aware it is there. However, you may experience some symptoms, especially as the cavity gets larger. 

Hot and cold sensitivity

When you have a cavity, you may experience some sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks. 

Normally, the outer enamel layer of your tooth protects the sensitive softer inner layers of your tooth, which surround the nerve. However, the cavity causes the structure of your tooth to become more porous, which can cause you to feel temperature more acutely. 

Sensitivity to sugar 

A cavity causes damage to the outer enamel layer of your tooth, which normally covers the softer dentin layer that surrounds the nerves in the middle of your tooth. When the enamel is damaged, you feel more sensations, including sensitivity to sweet foods and beverages that pass over your teeth. 


When you have a cavity, you may experience a toothache, either a slight twinge or a more severe pain. It may get worse when you are biting down on a piece of hard food. This is a sign that there is damage to your tooth allowing sensations to travel through your tooth to your sensitive nerves inside of it.

Staining on your tooth

Your teeth can get stains from dark-colored foods and drinks such as coffee, red wine, berries, and colored sodas. Sometimes you may see a light or a dark spot that is actually a cavity that is present on your tooth. It's important to get any spots checked out so you can get them removed or treated as soon as possible to prevent further decay, and save you from experiencing discomfort.

Visible holes

Cavities often start very small, so small that they can’t actually be seen and must be detected using x-rays. However, sometimes when they get larger, you can actually see a cavity on your tooth. You may also be able to feel the cavity when you touch it with your tongue or your finger. That’s a sign it’s definitely time to see your dentist for treatment.

Sometimes when cavities are small you may not have any symptoms, but it’s important to catch them early. Regular dental checkups with x-rays allow your dentist to find cavities before they create discomfort for you.

To set up an appointment, call our Santa Ana or Huntington Beach office or use our online booking system.

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