Warning Signs of Tooth Decay

Warning Signs of Tooth Decay

What causes tooth decay?

Tooth decay is a common problem that occurs when acids in the mouth dissolve the outer layers of teeth.

Our mouths are naturally full hundreds of different types of bacteria which live on teeth, gums and tongues (yuck!). While some can be beneficial, other types are harmful when they combine with tiny food particles and saliva to form a sticky film over your teeth known as plaque. When foods and drinks high in carbohydrates are consumed (especially sugary ones) the bacteria in plaque take advantage of the free meal and turn the carbs into energy while at the same time producing acid. If the plaque is not removed acid can dissolve the outer layers of your teeth which allows the film to eventually enter and harm the vulnerable center of your tooth.

Symptoms

Tooth decay is dangerous because signs usually do not show until you have a cavity or infected tooth.

When they do occur, symptoms include:

  • Toothache (which is the most common symptom)
  • Bad breath or a foul taste in the mouth
  • White, gray, brown, or black spots on the teeth.
  • Loose fillings
  • A tooth sensitive to pressure

The pain may become worse when you:

  • Eat sweets
  • Eat or drink hot, cold, or citrus foods/beverages
  • Brush your teeth
  • Chew food or gum
  • Breathe in cold air

How to prevent tooth decay

Even though tooth decay is a common issue, it is often completely avoidable. The best way to prevent this disease is to keep your gums and teeth healthy.

To do this, you should:

  • Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste twice daily
  • Floss at least once a day to clean under the gum line
  • Avoid rinsing with water or mouthwash after brushing because this washes the protective toothpaste away
  • Cut down on sugary food and drinks, particularly between meals