People often believe that their teeth are healthy as long as there is no pain or sensitivity. The truth is that most cavities have no symptoms at all, until they become very large and approach the nerve tissue deep inside the tooth. By that time, root canal therapy or an extraction may be the only options. It is much better to have a simple filling placed when the cavity is just starting. Early cavities can usually be detected during a dental examination, sometimes requiring dental X-rays.
This is an example of a patient that recently came into my office. The patient had no complaints and his teeth felt great. We found cavities on two of his back molars. I used an intra-oral camera to show the patient what was seen.
Picture 1 shows stain in the grooves. It is very common to have stained grooves on a molar but that does not necessarily mean there is a cavity. The dark shadow that can be seen just below the surface (near the center of the tooth just above where the grooves meet) is more concerning, and I recommended a filling to restore the tooth to health.
Picture 2 shows that this particular cavity had progressed deep into the tooth, yet the patient had not been having any sensitivity or pain at all. Without a dental examination, this tooth would likely have become a toothache within the next few months and would have required root canal therapy or an extraction.
Picture 3 shows the tooth after it had been filled with composite resin. The patient was thankful after seeing these photographs that the cavity had been found and a simple filling solved his problem.