Identifying The Signs And Symptoms Of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay usually occurs over a period of time due to plaque formation and damage caused by bacteria. Consequently, signs of cavities and tooth decay appear gradually as the acids present in plaque dissolve the tooth enamel and create cavities that grow inside the tooth structure.

Thus, tooth problems generally do not cause symptoms in the early stages. However, when left untreated for long time, it can cause complications that can eventually lead to tooth loss. Hence, it is essential to identify even the most subtle signs to determine if you have a decaying tooth.

tooth decay

Most Common Symptoms of Tooth Decay

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Toothache; throbbing, lingering pain
  • Sharp or mild pain on consuming extremely hot, cold, sweet, or sour foods
  • Unexplained bad breath
  • Foul taste in mouth
  • Chalky white, grey or brown spot on the affected tooth (early sign indicating demineralization)
  • Visible pits or holes in the teeth
  • Pus formation around teeth
  • Gum inflammation


Dentists usually identify tooth decay through oral examination and visual inspection. They are likely to check for sensitivity, pain, softness, etc. by probing the teeth with dental instruments.

Dental x-rays may be required in some cases to determine the extent of the cavities. Researchers are also testing technologies like fiber-opting light and laser energy to spot the decay.

Tips to Avoid Tooth Decay

Maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the most important factors that can help prevent tooth decay and formation of cavities.

Plus, as it is often difficult to identify the signs, it is suggested that you visit your dentist on a regular basis for cleanings and check ups.


Here’s a video showing how to brush your teeth properly.
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Given below are a few more tips and suggestions to avoid the chances of having tooth decay.

  • Avoid frequent snacking because it can cause continuous production of acids by bacteria present in plaque
  • Restrict the consumption of acidic food and drinks (may erode the tooth enamel over a period of time).
  • If you are accustomed to drinking soft drinks from time to time, you may be tempted to quench your thirst with this sugary drink itself. This is not a good habit, though. Thus, when you are thistly, better drink plain water only.
  • Avoid sucking mints and candies too often. If you cannot give up the habit of chewing gums then switch to non-sugar chewing gums.
  • Include more nutritious food in your diet instead of munching on sweet and starchy foods.
  • If it is not possible to brush your teeth after every meal and snack, sip some water after eating or drinking anything to keep the mouth clean and avoid attacks by mouth bacteria.
  • Limit the consumption of foods that stick to your teeth. Some examples of these sticky foods are potato chips, cookies, crackers, and so on.
  • Brush your teeth with a toothpaste containing fluoride as it helps strengthen the tooth enamel. Brush at least two times in a day, preferably with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Gently floss at least once in a day.
  • In case you have a chipped or broken tooth, get it repaired soon because it is more susceptible to decay.

It is best to detect the signs of tooth decay as soon as possible, or else it can lead to the formation of cavities that eventually destroy your teeth considerably.

Moreover, tooth decay can create complications like tooth abscess. In fact, when left untreated, it can spread to other teeth as well and may even cause tooth loss.

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