When bacteria in plaque feed off of the sugars in the foods that we eat, they create a harmful acid byproduct that causes tooth decay. There are a few different ways you can tell if you have experienced tooth decay.
Tooth pain is one of the most common signs that your tooth has experienced decay. It is also possible to experience swelling in your gums next to a painful tooth. In some cases, a white, gray, brown, or black spot may develop on your tooth at the point at which decay was experienced. In other instances, bad breath may indicate that tooth decay has been experienced. Sometimes there is no pain associated with tooth decay at all, though. Unfortunately, that does not mean that there is nothing to worry about. Tooth decay that does not immediately hurt is still eating away at the layers of your teeth. If the decay reaches the pulp of your tooth, where the nerves and blood vessels are located, you tooth will die and only a root canal procedure will be able to save it.
Tooth decay is best prevented by practicing good oral hygiene. That means brushing your teeth at least two times a day and flossing your teeth at least once a day. You also want to be sure to use fluoride toothpaste, as it helps make your teeth more resistant to the acids produced by plaque. It also recommended that you visit the dentist every six months for a professional exam and cleaning. Not only will they be able to pick up on tooth decay that you may have missed on your own, but they will be able to use X-rays to locate any areas of decay that are not visible to the naked eye alone.