5 Symptoms of Tooth Decay
Despite the fact that tooth decay is preventable, many people fail to take the simple steps to do so. Even worse, it can lead to serious issues including painful cavities, gum disease, and abscesses.
Decay occurs when acid is produced from plaque. Plaque can easily be reduced with regular brushing and flossing and routine professional dental cleanings. If the plaque is permitted to build up, however, the acid erodes your tooth surface leading to cavities.
Cavities can progress if left untreated allowing plaque and bacteria to reach the softer, bone-like dentin below the enamel. This is softer than enamel, accelerating tooth decay. By the time the bacteria makes its way to the pulp, you may develop a serious dental abscess.
Recognizing the symptoms of tooth decay is important as it will allow you to seek assistance before things progress too far. Here are five symptoms of tooth decay:
Tooth decay is the most common cause of toothaches. Tooth decay-related pain usually comes on suddenly without an apparent cause. This is because as tooth decay progresses, it eats through your enamel and continues to deepen into the dentin. If left untreated, it can progress right down to your pulp, the soft center of your tooth, leading to severe pain.
The thing about cavities is that you often don’t feel them, allowing them to deepen as you continue to avoid routine dental checkups.
If you do feel tooth pain, always book an appointment with us so we can make arrangements to provide proper treatment.
Tooth sensitivity is not normal. If you are experiencing discomfort or pain when eating or drinking something acidic, cold, hot, sticky, or sweet, this is not a good sign. Although some people can have more sensitive teeth than others, if you find you are suddenly experiencing sensitivity that wasn’t present before, it could be due to cavities.
As mentioned, if a cavity is not detected it will go deeper into your dentin. This provides the perfect path for these problematic foods and drinks to get to the very sensitive nerves and cells inside your teeth, causing pain and sensitivity. The difference between toothache and sensitivity is toothache is continuous, whereas sensitivity is a jolt of pain triggered by cold, heat and sweet.
If you are experiencing unusual sensitivity, you should see a professional who will determine the underlying issues.
3. Physical holes in the teeth
Cavities can sometimes be spotted as a small white spot on your tooth. As decay eats away at your tooth, it starts off as a small hole or pit that can be noticeable. You may even feel the pits with your tongue. If you see discolouration or can feel an unevenness on the surface of your teeth, you should always let us know so we can take a look to see if a cavity is forming, or already formed.
4. Discoloured teeth
Staining is an unfortunate fact of life for teeth. However, as above with a white spot, other changes to your teeth can also indicate tooth decay. The problem with discolouration or visible signs of decay is that they are easy to spot if they are at the front of your teeth but impossible to see if it is behind or between your teeth. That is why regular checkups are so important, as we have the tools to see all the surfaces of your teeth to look for signs of decay. This means we can stop decay in its tracks before it creates serious, painful, and costly damage.
5. Sharp pain when eating
Although tooth pain is not always associated with tooth decay, pain of any kind is never a good sign. Unlike a toothache, tooth pain is sharp, sudden, and doesn’t last. Usually felt when you bite down or chew, this could indicate that the pulp in the center of your tooth is inflamed. This is serious because it indicates deep decay and in some cases, can lead to tooth loss if not addressed quickly.
This can also be an indication that the pulp has actually died from a more severe infection, putting pressure on the root, the main structure that holds your tooth in place. Once this is affected, you are at higher risk of losing the tooth.
Preventing Tooth Decay
There are steps you can take to help prevent tooth decay including:
- Regular dental checkups
- A healthier diet with less sugary and starchy food and drinks
- At-home dental regime brushing and flossing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day
- Avoiding smoking
- Avoiding excessive drinking of alcohol
- Seeking assistance for dry mouth
Regardless of what is causing your pain, you should set up an appointment to see us as soon as possible. The sooner you see us, the sooner we can assess the pain to determine if you have damage such as a crack or require treatment such as a deep filling or root canal. The good news is with early detection you can avoid tooth loss and more costly restorative treatments.