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Tooth Decay - Symptoms

Tooth decay usually does not cause symptoms until you have a cavity or infected tooth. When this occurs, symptoms include:

  • Toothache, which is the most common symptom. An infection or irritation of the tooth pulp usually causes the pain.
  • Bad breath or a foul taste in the mouth.
  • White, gray, brown, or black spots on the teeth.
  • Loose fillings.
  • A broken tooth or a tooth that is sensitive to pressure.

The pain may become worse when you:

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Your mouth is more than just a pretty smile. It's also a gateway to your overall health. Keeping that gateway clean may keep you healthier longer -- and looking younger. “Just as white, straight teeth convey youth, a smile with crooked, discolored, worn, or missing teeth is associated with an aged look,” says Edmond Hewlett, DDS, professor of restorative dentistry at UCLA's School of Dentistry. “The adage ‘long in the tooth,’ used to describe older persons, reflects the fact that gum disease causes...

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  • Eat sweets.
  • Eat hot or cold foods or drink hot, cold, or acidic liquids, such as citrus drinks.
  • Chew food or gum.
  • Breathe in cold air.
  • Brush your teeth.

Severe tooth decay may cause a pus-filled sac (abscess) to form in the bone at the base of a tooth. Symptoms of abscess include:

  • Fever.
  • Swollen glands.
  • A swollen jaw.
  • Deep, throbbing pain.

For more information, see the topic Abscessed Tooth.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 17, 2009
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Answer:
Never
(0)
Good
(1-3)
Better
(4-6)
Best
(7)

You are currently

Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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