To have healthy teeth, you must be aware of the warning signs of tooth decay and gum disease.
Tooth decay occurs when teeth become damaged from long-term exposure to acidic foods and drinks.
But to eat the food, the bacteria produce acids that are harmful to your teeth. The bacteria, acids, and the food particles stuck between your teeth form a biofilm coating on your teeth called plaque.
If you wish to keep your teeth healthy, knowing the signs of early tooth decay is essential. Here are seven common symptoms of tooth decay.
1. White Flecks on the Teeth
The earliest symptom of tooth decay is white flecks on your teeth. The plaque acids have chipped away at the enamel layer, revealing inner structure to show where damage has been done – this will lead you towards a brown or black stain if left untreated.
If you don’t remove the plaque by brushing and flossing, it forms into a hard substance called tartar. The acids within the tooth’s decay process will eventually eat away at all of your teeth layers from enamel, do the dentin, and right down to the pulp – which contains blood vessels and nerves!
Tooth decay is one of Americans’ most common health problems, especially among young children and teenagers. But even adults suffer from tooth decay; according to the CDC, more than 26% of American adults have untreated tooth decay.
You can identify the next stage of tooth decay by eroding enamel. This appears as a hole or gap on the surface. You will most likely notice it when you look in the mirror while brushing or flossing.
Over time, you might begin to feel a gap or small hole in your teeth with your tongue. Just keep in mind that once a cavity begins, the only solution you have is to visit your dentist to get them treated and filled.
2. Bad Breath
Another common sign of tooth decay is bad breath. This is usually a result of rotting food stuck inside a cavity or a buildup of harmful bacteria in the mouth. Practicing proper oral hygiene (like brushing and flossing multiple times a day) is your best prevention. However, if you still suffer from bad breath, we recommend you see a dentist.
Periodic pain or toothaches in your mouth are common symptoms of tooth decay. Pain is a warning that a tooth might be infected due to tooth decay. You should also see a dentist if you feel pain when biting down on food.
4. Sensitivity to hot or cold foods
Another symptom of tooth decay is a dull pain in your teeth when you eat or drink something hot, especially if it’s accompanied by an even worse taste. Tooth decay wears away the enamel or protective layer of the teeth. This exposes the dentin and pulp layer where your nerves lie. So any hot or cold food that you eat stimulates your nerves and blood vessels, causing pain.
5. Sensitivity to sweets
Another sign of tooth decay is feeling slight or extreme pain when you eat something sweet. Typically, we should only feel pleasure when we eat sweets, so pain is a sign of damage to the enamel.
6. Swollen gums or tooth abscess
Tooth decay can affect your teeth in many ways. If it reaches the pulp, you’ll likely get an infection because this is where nerves and blood vessels are located!
7. Permanent tooth loss
Tooth loss is the final stage and symptom of tooth decay. If an infection advances enough, it can push out a diseased or loose tooth from its root with little effort on behalf of your dentist; sometimes they may even decide to pull this infected area instead!
What to do to stop and correct the tooth decay
Tooth decay is serious, but luckily there are ways to prevent it. Suppose you’re at risk of developing cavities because of your diet or lifestyle habits (eats sugary foods often). In that case, the dentist might suggest putting varnish in affected areas and adding fluoride gel into daily routines as protection against future stains on teeth from plaque buildup that causes acid attacks upon enamel – the hardest substance found inside the human body!
If tooth decay is extensive, your dentist may suggest a crown or a filling. The dentist will remove the decayed part during a filling and then fill the tooth using porcelain and composite resins. If tooth decay is very severe and has affected your pulp, you will require a root canal procedure. Even a root canal may fail to solve the tooth decay problem, and the only solution is tooth extraction. Once the tooth is extracted, ensure that you replace it with a denture, dental implant, or bridge after healing.