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5 Signs of Tooth Decay

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Tooth decay is a gradual process that leads to cavities. It happens because bacteria found in plaque

(a clear material located  on the teeth and gums) reacts with sugars found in your saliva after eating. This reaction forms acid in the mouth that attacks the enamel eventually leading to a cavity. With 31% of adults currently having tooth decay and 31% of children starting primary school having noticeable tooth decay (source: NHS), there is clearly a problem in the UK.

child brushing teeth

The signs

It can be hard to tell if you have tooth decay in the early stages as the process works insidiously over time. To help you detect tooth decay there are five main signs to look out for.


Toothache is pain around the teeth and jaw areas.  It is caused by dental caries (tooth decay).

Toothache can range from slight discomfort to a severe sharp pain accompanied with a throbbing headache.

Until you go to see your dentist takes over the counter pain killers to sooth the pain.

Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity or dentine hypersensitivity is when the nerves inside your teeth have a heightened reaction to environmental factors. This can be in the form of shooting pains and an intense stabbing pain.

The teeth become especially sensitive to hot, cold and sweet drinks and foods.

Bad Breath

Bad breath or halitosis is when an unpleasant smell comes from your mouth. This can be embarrassing and uncomfortable for both the person and the people around you.

Bad breathe can usually can be eradicated with good oral hygiene unless decay is present.

Unpleasant Tastebad breath

Do you find you are constantly brushing and reaching for the mouthwash, but still have that nasty taste lingering in your mouth?

This is one of the most obvious signals of tooth decay. Rather than being in increments (i.e. tooth sensitivity when eating ice cream) the lingering taste is constant and usually gets people running straight to the dentists for a solution.

Discolouring Spots

If you notice that you have black, brown or grey spots on your teeth you could have tooth decay. The staining could also be signs of other problems such as trauma, damage and staining.

Either way you need to see your dentist as soon as possible for treatment (or a scale and polish for tea and coffee stains).

If you are worried about tooth decay or just need a general check-up do not hesitate to contact us.

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Last Updated: 15th May 2024 - 9:40 am

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