Top Signs Of Tooth Decay

Tooth Decay Marielaina Perrone DDS

Tooth decay is extremely common around the world and is one of the leading health issues affecting both children and adults. Luckily, it is very preventable with the maintenance of a good dental hygiene program.

Tooth Decay Explained

Tooth decay (also called dental cavities) is the slow or rapid destruction of tooth structure. It can affect both the enamel (outer layer) and the dentin layer (inner layer) of the tooth. Tooth decay is the most common cause of tooth loss. It affects virtually everyone at some point in their lives. Tooth decay is actually the second most common disease in the U.S. (the common cold is first).  Luckily, cavities are easily preventable.

It is normal for bacteria to be present in the mouth naturally. Certain types of these oral bacteria are able to attach to hard surfaces in the mouth like the enamel that cover the teeth. If these bacteria are not removed, they are able to multiply and grow in number until a colony forms. Proteins that are present in the saliva also mix in and the bacteria colony becomes a whitish film (plaque) on the enamel.

These bacteria feed on sugars and starches from the food like chocolates, sticky sweets, ice cream, milk, cakes, and even fruits, vegetables and juices, producing acid as a byproduct.

Marielaina Perrone DDS Tooth Decay Marielaina Perrone DDS

This acid then erodes the tooth enamel slowly dissolving the tooth. A cavity is formed when tooth structure is dissolved causing a hole or break in the tooth structure. If not fixed at this early stage, the tooth decay can continue to progress further reaching the dentin where it can spread even quicker.

The cavity can progress very quickly after entering the dentin. This can lead to a larger issue of a dental abscess if untreated. Unfortunately for the patient, this process moves very slowly so there may not be any pain or tooth sensitivity until the cavity becomes quite big.

Signs Of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay signs and symptoms can vary from person to person. Below are the top signs of tooth decay:

  • Swollen or bleeding gums – Gingivitis (earliest form of periodontal disease), an inflammation of the gums due to a bacterial infection, is one of the most common causes of bleeding gums. Most people don’t know when they have gingivitis, and when this bacteria builds up, they start to produce acids that attack the enamel, which can lead to tooth decay. Luckily, for us, periodontal disease bacteria and tooth decay bacteria are not one and the same. However, the sticky film (plaque) that forms allows for other bacteria to move in and begin the process of tooth decay.
  • Tooth Sensitivity – Tooth sensitivity is generally noticed upon eating or drinking (usually something hot or cold). This sensitivity is probably due to tooth enamel erosion which allow for easy access for bacteria to begin the process of tooth decay.

Marielaina Perrone DDS Dental Hygiene

  • Bad Breath (Halitosis) – Maintaining poor dental hygiene is a leading cause of bad breath. If after brushing, flossing, and rinsing you notice a continued bad breath call your dentist. This could be a sign of tooth decay.
  • Tooth Discoloration – This is not a primary sign by itself since other oral habits can cause staining or discoloration. These habits include, tobacco use, smoking, or certain foods or drinks. Tooth discoloration is a sign of poor dental hygiene. Poor dental hygiene will lead to tooth decay over time.
  • Unpleasant Taste – Dental issues such as infection and poor dental habits may lead to a foul taste in your mouth and could represent early warning signs of tooth decay.

Tooth Decay Prevention Tips

According to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 25% of the adults in the United States along have untreated tooth decay. If left un treated, tooth decay can lead to tooth loss. Preventing tooth decay is an achievable goal. Here are simple tips to prevent tooth decay:

  • Regular Dental Examinations, Professional Cleanings, And Great Homecare. Regular dental maintenance will increase chances of finding tooth decay at its earliest and also to ensure you are doing a proper job of dental hygiene at home. Professional cleanings will remove plaque bacteria, tartar, and tooth pellicle (protein layer that forms on the teeth) to aid in healing gum tissue and decrease bacteria buildup. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing properly will help maintain a continued healthy oral environment.
  • Lower Levels Of Harmful Oral Bacteria. The only way to naturally eradicate cavity-forming germs is with xylitol. You only need 1-2 teaspoons a day (in small doses), but you need xylitol at opportune times –when cavity bacteria multiply. Mouth germs flourish after meals or when your mouth is dry or acidic. Xylitol has the ability to eradicate approximately 92% of cavity-forming bacteria in an effective, progressive way.
  • Maintaining A Well Balanced Diet. Limiting sugar intake is an excellent first step. Selecting healthier snacks and limiting snacks is even more important. Examples of some good, tooth-friendly snacks are cheese, nuts, and vegetables. Another plus to a healthy diet is that you will feel better and have more energy to go about your day.
  • Maintain A Balanced Oral Cavity. Our saliva works hard to maintain an optimal, balanced oral environment by rinsing away oral bacteria and buffering acidic drinks. Acid is a by product of oral bacteria and weakens tooth enamel directly. Acids ingested through eating and drinking will weaken teeth by dissolving important minerals out of them.
  • When the enamel is weakened enough, tooth decay will begin. This is why it is so important to brush and floss after every meal. If you cannot brush, rinse your mouth with water following a meal or snack to help neutralize the acids in your mouth.
  • Attempt To Strengthen Enamel. Luckily, it is possible to naturally repair tooth decay in its earliest form. A tooth can be “remineralized”, meaning minerals can be added back to the tooth to strengthen it. This is only helpful when tooth decay has not penetrated deeply into the tooth. Once decay progresses into the underlying layers it is too late to strengthen. Xylitol and fluoride may be used to remineralize teeth.
  • Know Your Medications. Many prescription (and even over the counter) medications can decrease saliva causing dry mouth (xerostomia). It is important to practice extra diligent dental hygiene if you know you have dry mouth.


For many people, tooth decay can be a real problem over the course of a lifetime. There are many ways to combat tooth decay but the most important is good dental hygiene at home and with dentist. Get to the source of that problem by investigating into what seems to be damaging your teeth. Once you know whether it is diet, frequent snacking, poor hygiene, high acids, low saliva, etc.

You can then change your daily habits to help prevent further tooth decay. Ask your dentist and dental hygienist for their guidance. They may be better suited at finding the problems and at giving you the proper solutions that will work for you.

If you are ready for a smile makeover, contact Marielaina Perrone DDS at (702) 458-2929 to schedule a no cost cosmetic consultation appointment. We cannot wait to help you with your smile makeover to create the smile of your dreams in Summerlin, Henderson, and Las Vegas, NV.

.Author Bio

Cosmetic Dentist Marielaina Perrone DDS

Marielaina Perrone DDS Family And Cosmetic Dentist

Marielaina Perrone, DDS, is a highly experienced and dedicated dental professional passionate about delivering exceptional patient care. With over 20 years of experience in the dental industry, Dr. Perrone is widely regarded as a leading authority in her field, with a reputation for providing innovative solutions and personalized care to her patients.