Oral health is key to a healthier life. It prevents tooth decay and cavity build-up. But what if you failed to take care of your teeth health? What if it is too late because you already have tooth decay without even noticing it? Can you know the symptoms of tooth decay?

Toothache and tooth sensitivity are some of the most common symptoms of tooth decay. It can be a continuous, sharp pain in your mouth that keeps you awake. Others may feel tenderness or pain when eating or drinking hot, cold, and sweets. But sometimes, you won’t feel anything or notice dark spots on the tooth at all.

Preventing tooth decay and cavity built-up is one of the most important ways to keep your oral health at its peak. Unfortunately, untreated cavities can ruin your teeth and lead to more severe problems. So what can you do? First, it’s worth knowing the signs of tooth decay.

What Is A Tooth Decay?

Damage to a tooth’s surface, or enamel, is what we call tooth decay. It occurs when bacteria in your mouth produce acids that eat away at your teeth’ enamel. Cavities (dental caries) are holes in your teeth that occur because of tooth decay. If left untreated, dental decay can lead to discomfort, infection, and even tooth loss.

What Causes Tooth Decay?

Bacteria can enter and form in our mouths. Some bacteria can be beneficial, but some can be hazardous. For example, plaque ruins dental health after forming because of bacteria’s interaction with food. Thus, it creates a soft, sticky coating. 

In addition, plaque bacteria produce acids from the sugar and starch in your food and drink. The acids eat away at your enamel’s minerals. Then, plaque can harden into tartar. As a result, it can irritate your gums and develop gum disease, besides harming your teeth.

A white patch on the affected tooth may form because of the loss of minerals. It shows tooth decay in its early stages. You might halt or reverse the degradation. If you take better care of your teeth and avoid sugary/starchy foods and drinks, your enamel can still heal.

However, if tooth decay persists, more minerals will get lost without proper treatment. So, enamel weakens and deteriorates over time, resulting in a cavity. A cavity is a hole in your tooth that has a lot of bacteria. It requires professional treatment from your dentist to fix the damage.

Who Is at Risk for Tooth Decay?

Anyone can be at risk of tooth decay, regardless of age, and gender. However, people who consume too many sugary or starchy foods and drinks are more prone to it. Worst, those patients who don’t visit their dentists regularly and do proper hygiene regularly. But other people have a higher risk of tooth decay. It includes the following groups.

  • People that use drugs, specific disorders, or cancer treatments.
  • Not enough saliva production.
  • There isn’t enough fluoride in your diet.
  • People who are still relatively young. Bottle-drinking babies and toddlers are in danger, especially if they are fed juice or have bottles at bedtime. It is because their teeth may get exposed to sugars for long periods.
  • Adults in their later years. Many older people suffer from receding gums and increased tooth wear. These factors increase the risk of decay on their teeth’ exposed root surfaces.

What Are The Symptoms of Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay symptoms differ, which may surprise you, especially if you think you maintain decent oral hygiene. Dentists can typically detect tooth disease and cavities by looking at your teeth and probing them with dental devices. Your dentist will also inquire about any symptoms you are experiencing. Keep an eye out for the following indicators of tooth decay.

Swollen or bleeding gums

You may have swollen or hidden bleeding gums if your gums feel irritating, sensitive, or even painful. One of the most common reasons for bleeding gums is gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums caused by a bacterial infection. Unfortunately, most individuals are unaware that they have gingivitis. When bacteria build up in the mouth, the formation of acids damages the enamel, causing tooth decay.

Pressure on your teeth

When you bite down on food, you may experience pain or pressure. There are also times when you experience discomfort in your mouth. If the pressure sensitivity persists, see a dentist.

Sensitivity in your teeth

When you eat or drink something hot or cold, tooth sensitivity usually manifests as soreness or pain. However, it may or may not cause any discomfort. It’s possible that the sensitivity you’re experiencing is due to enamel degradation.

Bad breath

One of the primary reasons for foul breath in early tooth decay and cavities is poor dental habits. You should see your dentist if you’ve noticed foul mouth odors that persist even after brushing and flossing. It could show dental decay.

Discoloration on your teeth

One of the telltale indications of oral decay is tooth discoloration. Teeth discoloration results from tobacco use, gum disease, certain foods and drinks, and poor oral hygiene. Sometimes, a person practices poor oral habits that can lead to this condition.

An unpleasant taste in your mouth

Infections and poor dental habits can cause foul tastes and serve as early warning signals of tooth deterioration.

How To Treat Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is treatable, and you can discuss with your dentist the various ways of treating it. The severity of the problem determines the type of treatment you receive. Let’s take a quick look at some methods for tooth decay treatment.

  • Fluoride. A fluoride treatment might help the enamel heal itself if you have early tooth decay.
  • Fillings. If you have a normal cavity, your dentist will remove the decayed tooth tissue and then fill it with a filling substance to restore the tooth.
  • Root canal. It is a procedure that removes the roots if the tooth got damaged and infected the pulp (inside the tooth). Your dentist will clean the inside of the tooth and remove the decayed pulp. The next step is to place a temporary filling in the tooth. Then you’ll have to return for a permanent filling or a crown (a cover on the tooth).
  • Obtaining (pulling the tooth). When the pulp damage is too severe to repair, your dentist may recommend removing the tooth. To replace the missing tooth, your dentist will recommend a bridge or implant. Otherwise, the teeth on either side of the gap may shift and alter your bite.

How To Prevent Tooth Decay?

Prevention is always the best cure. Avoid having tooth decay for a worry-free tomorrow. It is better to pay your dentist for regular cleaning than other expensive tooth decay treatments. Check out some simple tips to help you prevent tooth decay.

Avoid frequent snacking

Snacking throughout the day might lead to tooth decay. It may sound surprising, but here’s why. You are exposing your teeth to additional sweets every time you nibble. One of the best methods to safeguard your teeth and avoid tooth decay is eating a well-balanced diet low in sugar and processed foods.

Eat dental healthy foods and drinks

What you eat determines your overall health. For example, a healthy mouth needs whole grains rather than refined grains. Consume more fruits and vegetables, such as apples, spinach, lettuce, and kale over chips and chocolates. Water is the healthiest beverage not only for your body but also for your teeth.

Brush and floss regularly

Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste daily is one of the most efficient strategies to avoid cavities and decay. You can complete the process by flossing between your teeth regularly.

Keep your mouth hydrated

Your smile will improve because of drinking the required amount of water intake each day. In addition, keeping your mouth hydrated with water helps your teeth stay healthy. Water relieves dry mouth by keeping the mouth moist and preventing bacteria colonies from making too many acids, which erode enamel and cause cavities or decay. Fluoridated water also helps to prevent tooth decay.

Avoid tobacco

Cigarette smokers have a higher rate of tooth decay. But, did you know that untreated dental decay affects over 40% of persons aged 20 to 64 who currently smoke cigarettes? If you’re one of them, you might as well want to start with this tip to improve your oral health.

Importance of Dental Hygiene

A regular visit to your dentist, proper daily hygiene, and the right diet; are some methods to prevent tooth decay. Dental hygiene is essential to everyone – all ages and genders. These techniques may help to prevent cavities from growing larger and new ones from appearing. 

At Marisa Walker DDS, our priority is to provide a rewarding dental experience for all patients. We can help you prevent tooth decay, and if you already have one, come and visit our dentists in Menlo Park. We can also improve your appearance and restore your confidence by treating tooth decay. So book an appointment today, and let’s talk about how we can improve your smile.

Marisa Walker DDS

650-328-2072

150 Middlefield Road., Suite 101, Menlo Park CA 94025