Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is it possible to have a cavity without tooth pain?"
My teeth do not hurt, but I think I may have cavities. My gums bleed in the morning.
A cavity is an erosion in the outer surface of the tooth or "enamel," causing a pit in the tooth in which bacteria can reproduce. When this erosion becomes deep enough, it can involve the nerve in the center of the tooth causing a painful toothache and swelling. Cavities themselves are not typically painful, unless they have become deep enough to involve the nerve root; this is why most dentists recommend twice-yearly screening exams to look for cavities and treat them if they are present. Your description of bleeding gums, however, is not a typical symptom of cavities. Bleeding gums are often due to the gum disease known as gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums associated with poor dental hygiene. Other causes of bleeding gums include hereditary bleeding disorders (passed down amongst families, like hemophilia), as well as acquired blood disorders which interfere with blood clotting. In rare cases, bleeding gums can be a presenting complaint for blood malignancies like leukemia. In your case, I would suggest an in-person consultation with a dentist. They will be able to determine if your bleeding gums are due to gingivitis, or if consideration for other, rarer causes of bleeding is warranted. Furthermore, they will be able to examine your teeth for cavities and treat them before they become infected.
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