The signs and symptoms of cavities and tooth decay vary depending on their extent and location. When a cavity is just beginning, you may not have any symptoms at all. But your dentist may be able to see that decay is starting and recommend steps to keep it from getting worse.

As the decay gets larger, it may cause such signs and symptoms as:

  • Toothache
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking something sweet, hot or cold
  • Visible holes or pits in your teeth
  • Pain when you bite down
  • Pus around a tooth, especially when you press on your gums

When to see a dentist

You may not be aware that a cavity is forming, so visiting your dentist regularly is your best protection against cavities and tooth decay. If you experience toothache or mouth pain — common telltale signs of cavities — see your dentist as soon as possible.

If a cavity is treated before it starts causing pain, you probably won't need extensive treatment. That's why it's important to have regular dental checkups and cleanings even when your mouth feels fine. By the time you notice symptoms, the damage is getting worse.

Apr. 28, 2011