Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases among Americans. 80% of Americans have at least one cavity before they’re 35. You may wonder, with tooth decay so prevalent among adults, how do you know whether you too are suffering from this common issue? Our Center Valley dentists break down the signs and symptoms of tooth decay and how you can keep your smile healthy, happy, and bright.
The Causes of Tooth Decay
Before we go into the signs and symptoms of tooth decay, let’s explore the causes. Tooth decay, first and foremost, is caused by poor brushing and oral health habits. Foods with high sugar content stick to teeth. Without proper brushing or flossing, plaque and decay have a chance to form, leaving cavities in their wake.
While less common, dry mouth can also cause tooth decay. The saliva in your mouth helps wash away food and plaque. Your doctor or dentist can prescribe solutions for dry mouth.
The Signs of Tooth Decay
Early tooth decay is easy to prevent but hard to spot, so keep up your regular visits with your dentists. They can spot the signs of tooth decay and help restore your teeth before more serious measures need to be taken.
As your tooth decay grows more severe, the signs are varied. Not everyone will see or feel the same signs, though there are a few common ones to look out for:
- Toothaches: Toothaches are either continuous pain or short bursts of spontaneous, sharp pain. You may also experience pain when you’re eating.
- Sensitivity: Sensitivity may occur while eating or drinking something hot or cold. For example, you may feel tingling or sensitivity while eating a bowl of ice cream or taking a sip of coffee.
- Discoloration: White spots along your gum line are typically the first sign of tooth decay. As your tooth decay grows worse, you may notice brown or black staining on the surface of your tooth.
Other signs may include:
- Facial swelling
- Gum swelling, redness, or irritation
- Bad breath
- Odd tastes
- Visible holes in your teeth
If you experience any of the above signs of tooth decay, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your dentist right away!
The Symptoms of Tooth Decay
If left to suffer from tooth decay, the small signs you experience can become larger irreversible symptoms. One of the most common symptoms of tooth decay is a cavity or even tooth loss, but other serious side-effects include:
- Pain that can interfere with your daily life
- Swelling or pus around your tooth
- Damaged, cracked, or broken teeth
- A pocket of pus, or an abscess, in your tooth
- Chewing problems that prevent you from eating your favorite foods
- Teeth movement
Severe tooth decay can impact every aspect of your daily life: from the foods you eat to the way you smile. By not treating tooth decay, the damage can spread and leave you needing a costly repair.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is entirely preventable. These three easy steps can keep your smile healthy.
- Visit your dentist regularly. Here at Center Valley Dental, we specialize in dental care for children and adults. We can quickly pinpoint any issues through routine check-ups, cleanings, and examinations,
- Cut down on junk food and soda. Sugary snacks and drinks are the biggest culprits of tooth decay! If you snack, make sure you’re brushing your teeth properly to prevent the sugar from settling and forming bacteria.
- Brush your teeth. Brush your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste. And don’t forget to floss! If you smoke tobacco, you may have to brush more often.
While the signs and symptoms of tooth decay may be serious, treatments are available to help restore your smile. If the decay has spread to the center of your tooth, a root canal can remove the pulp and decay. Then, the tooth is cleaned and filled. Your smile will look like new!
However, sometimes the natural tooth cannot be restored. When this is the case, tooth removal may be necessary. Once your infected or damaged tooth is removed, a dental implant can help replace the missing tooth root. Dental implants are natural-looking and feeling. They use a titanium screw, topped with a custom-made crown. And with a success rate of over 90%, it is no wonder why millions of Americans turn to dental implants!
Protect Your Smile with Center Valley Dental
Here at Center Valley Dental, we can help you spot the symptoms of tooth decay, prevent further damage, and restore your smile. In addition to preventative care, we also offer high-quality cosmetic dentistry, including crowns and dental implants.
To learn more, request an appointment with Center Valley Dental today!