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Cavities are the second-most common health problem in the country, with over 3 million cases per year.
You may not experience pain at all when a cavity first develops. However, you can experience the following cavity symptoms as it grows.
Persistent toothache and pain
How can you tell if you have a cavity? A toothache or severe pain often signals developing cavity symptoms, especially when the damaged tooth comes into contact with something.
“Pain is often a symptom, and pain can be in the gums below the tooth or the tooth itself,” explains Eric Klein, a dentist in Norwalk, CT. “Sometimes you have a sharp, acute pain or it may be a dull, throbbing pain, and both are signs of a cavity.”
Pain when chewing on food
“If you start chewing on any food and something hurts, it could be because the tooth has a crack in it or because the tooth has a cavity,” says Klein.
If you feel a sharp, sudden pain after biting into an apple or chewing on food, the nerve in your tooth may be infected and in the process of decay.
Touching the afflicted area can help you gauge the severity of your pain and decide whether or not the tooth needs to be evaluated.
If you can’t touch your tooth without shuddering in pain, schedule an appointment with your dentist to have the tooth examined.
Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
Cavities are essentially small, infected holes that develop in teeth, making them a perfect breeding ground for food particles and bacteria.
“A cavity is caused by acid and sugar breaking a hole in the enamel, and then bacteria can get in that hole,” explains Klein. “Bacteria can cause odor and a bad taste in the mouth.”
According to the American Dental Association, bad breath may also be a warning sign of gum disease, caused by a buildup on plaque on teeth that irritates the gums. If you notice persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth, contact a dentist to further evaluate the bacteria’s source. These are other likely reasons you could have bad breath.