Toothaches happen to the best of us. But signals of tooth decay can show up in other sneaky ways even before you feel pain. Knowing the signs of decay as well as understanding what a decayed tooth’s effect on your overall dental health might be are both important.
What Happens When You Have Tooth Decay?
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Tooth decay is a damaged area of the tooth that shows signs on the outside of its hard surface. It’s one of the most common diseases people face, second only to the common cold. So what causes it?
Bacteria in our mouths, frequent enjoyment of sugary drinks and food, and improper teeth cleaning can all be culprits. These things alone or in combination can lead to plaque, which builds up on the teeth over time. Plaque releases an acid that breaks down the protective enamel on your teeth, and bacteria enter the tooth, causing decay. This can cause:
Tooth sensitivity is usually the first sign, and typically shows up as tenderness in the affected area when you eat or drink something hot, cold, or sweet. A toothache can result in intolerable pain if left untreated.
Change in Color
You may also notice changes in the color of the tooth. Brown or black spots and staining in the grooves of the teeth could be a sign of tooth decay. Even white or yellow staining could signify weakening enamel.
If you have bad breath even after brushing your teeth, you likely have a cavity. Although the cavity isn’t the cause of the bad breath, the food stuck inside of it can be.
Pain When Chewing
Does it hurt when you bite down? This could be another signal of tooth decay. Exposed nerves happen when a tooth is decaying and can cause pain.
A bad taste in your mouth could indicate a dental infection. Bacteria that enter the weakened part of your enamel could make their way to your tooth’s nerve, causing an abscess. Although these can form asymptomatically, it’s important to treat them immediately to clear up the infection.
How the Tooth Affects Overall Mouth Health
Now that you can spot tooth decay, how can it affect your overall mouth health? The sooner you have tooth decay or a cavity treated, the less invasive your treatments will be. Likewise, getting it filled as soon as possible could stop it from spreading to the rest of your mouth. If left untreated, decaying teeth can become infected. That infection could eventually seep into your bloodstream and become life-threatening. Tooth decay is not something to ignore!
The Importance of Seeing a Dentist
If you see any of these signs of a cavity, don’t hesitate to schedule a dental visit to repair your tooth. Letting the tooth decay any further could be not only painful but also detrimental to your overall health. If the idea of general dentistry makes you nervous, consider sedation dentistry options to ease your mind.
Here at Carolina Family Dentistry, we make sure you feel confident and comfortable seeing a dentist to repair your tooth. We’ll also be sure to work with your schedule to set up regular preventive dental visits to preserve your mouth health.