When your mouth is trying to tell you something, you should do your best to listen. The symptoms of tooth decay often present themselves in a variety of different ways and for a variety of different reasons, with some of the indications being fairly universal.
Tooth decay occurs when a lack of brushing and flossing allows plaque and tartar buildup on the surface, which damages your enamel and creates small pockets and cavities. If you don’t perform your oral hygiene routine often enough, you’re an easy target when it comes to developing cavities.
We’re going to talk about five common symptoms that, if they present themselves, should be a sign to call your dentist. We’ll also talk about how to properly keep your teeth clean so you can achieve the best oral health possible and avoid issues with tooth decay.
1. Feeling Pain While Chewing or Biting Down
It’s safe to say that the average healthy person shouldn’t be experiencing pain or discomfort when biting into their food; but if you are, this can be a sign of a cavity. The pain stems from the tooth potentially being inflamed by the cavity, or simply because the cavity causes the tooth to develop a crack. Neither of these things make for comfortable eating.
If you have a cavity that’s severe enough to be affecting your daily life in this way, you should definitely make an appointment with your dentist. If you’re unsure of the seriousness of it, tryi touching the affected area to gauge how bad the pain really is, and whether or not the tooth needs to be evaluated by a specialist. If you can barely touch the affected area due to pain, you should take that as an indication to have it looked at as soon as possible.
2. Consistent Bad Breath
Cavities are a breeding ground for bacteria due to the way they’re constructed. Because they create tiny holes and cracks in your teeth, they make it really easy for particles of food to become trapped and quickly create a buildup of bacteria. If left unchecked, this will produce an obvious odor.
Frequent bad breath can act as a symptom of many other serious dental problems as well, so if you notice it more than a few times in a week, it may be time to set an appointment with your dentist for an evaluation. Bad breath can sometimes be indicative of gum disease or periodontal disease.
The same goes for having a bad taste in your mouth. If you notice a consistent strange taste coupled with the bad breath, this is a sure sign that something is wrong.
3. Unusual Tooth Sensitivity
The American Dental Association estimates that around 1 in 8 people experience tooth sensitivity on a minor to severe level. Because this number is so high and experiencing sensitivity is so common, many patients think it’s normal to feel it when drinking very hot or very cold things, and they often don’t bring up these symptoms to their dentist.
Typically when you begin feeling pain from a cavity, this means the problem has already become quite serious. If you notice any symptoms that seem to only persist, make sure you tell your dentist about it. They’ll be able to recommend options to alleviate those symptoms and evaluate you for cavities and other oral health issues in the meantime.
4. Black and Brown Staining on the Teeth
Teeth can become stained for a variety of reasons, and noticing yellow or brown coloring isn’t always cause for alarm. Sometimes these stains occur because of your coffee intake, not brushing often enough, or just general poor oral health.
These stains can also be an indication of one or more cavities, however, and when this decay hardens it forms tartar that often appears along the gum line. Keep in mind that your dentist is the only one that can truly remove tartar: regular brushing and flossing just won’t cut it. If you’re noticing abnormal stains along with other symptoms, make sure to call your dentist for an evaluation!
Once your teeth have been properly cleaned, you can ask your dentist for tips to properly maintain your oral health, avoid stains, and ensure that you keep any potential cavities to a minimum.
5. Visible Holes In Your Teeth
If the actual cavity in your tooth has become visible, you shouldn’t waste any time making an appointment with your dentist. These holes form when the bacteria in your mouth creates cavities, and when they’re at the point of being visible, seeking treatment right away is a must. Cavities can be reversed in the very early stages, so it’s important to act fast to keep your oral health in top shape!
How Can I Prevent Cavities?
The key to preventing tooth decay is to develop an oral hygiene routine that’s consistent and effective. You should be brushing your teeth at least twice a day, for at least two minutes each time. Flossing is equally as important as brushing, and should be done at least once per day. Dislodging any leftover particles and food with floss is the best way to prevent bacteria and buildup, and catch anything your toothbrush may have missed.
Your diet can play a key role in your oral health, too. While sugar doesn’t necessarily cause cavities, eating sugary foods and going for long periods of time without brushing can cause tooth decay if it becomes habitual. Make sure that if you’re indulging in your favorite foods, you’re keeping your mouth and teeth squeaky clean afterwards.
Last but not least, make sure you’re staying on top of your hygiene appointments. Seeing your dentist every six months for an evaluation and cleaning is one of the best things you can do for your dental health!