Tooth decay - Symptoms 

Symptoms of tooth decay 

Tooth decay may not cause symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage. This is why it is important to have regular dental checks. Tooth decay is much easier to treat successfully in its early stages.

Adults over 18 should have a check-up at least once every two years. People under the age of 18 should have a check-up at least once a year. Young children may require a check-up every 4-6 months.

However, your dentist may recommend more frequent check-ups if you have had a history of dental problems, or you are thought to be at a higher risk of developing tooth decay.

Read about the causes of tooth decay for more information on risk factors.

Symptoms of advanced tooth decay

The symptoms of advanced tooth decay include:

  • toothache 
  • tooth sensitivity  you may feel tenderness or pain when eating or drinking something hot, cold or sweet
  • discoloured spots (grey, brown or black) appearing on your teeth
  • bad breath 
  • an unpleasant taste in your mouth

Toothache is a warning that something is wrong and that you should visit your dentist as soon as possible. If you ignore the problem it will get worse, and you could end up losing a tooth.

Page last reviewed: 07/06/2012

Next review due: 07/06/2014

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