Early Warning Signs of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the most common oral health problem. Most adults (more than 90%) have at least one cavity at some point. But just as with many health and dental issues, you can prevent and manage tooth decay when caught and treated early. 

Knowing the early warning signs of tooth decay help you stay on top of your oral health and lower your risk of advanced tooth decay and gum disease over time.

Our team of dentists and specialists at Arden Dental Group offer a range of general and cosmetic dentistry services at our office in the greater Asheville, North Carolina, area.

Early warning signs of tooth decay

Cavities form when the bacteria and acids in your mouth harden into plaque and cause the enamel to erode. The sooner you catch and treat a cavity, the easier it will be to manage. 

Untreated cavities get progressively worse and can lead to infection and other oral health problems that may require more invasive treatment and be more expensive to treat.

Here are some of the most common early warning signs of tooth decay:

Tooth sensitivity

Pain or sensitivity in one or more teeth when you eat or drink something hot, cold, or sweet is often a sign of tooth decay.


Discoloration or dark spots on your teeth can be a sign of a cavity.

Bad breath 

Bad breath can be the result of bacteria in your mouth, and that bacteria is also a trigger for tooth decay.


If you notice any holes or pits in your teeth, it's a sign that decay has started. But it’s possible to have a cavity without noticing it, depending on the size and location of the decayed tooth.


A toothache is a very noticeable sign of advanced tooth decay. It can be a sharp or dull pain that comes and goes or persists.

Visible pits or holes

You may be able to see pits or holes in your teeth, which is a sign that the decay has progressed.

It's important to see a dentist if you experience any of these signs, as early treatment can prevent further damage to your teeth and gums.

Preventing tooth decay and gum disease

Practicing good oral hygiene, eating a healthy diet, and going to the dentist every six months for a dental exam and professional cleaning are the best tools available to prevent tooth decay and gum disease and to maintain healthy teeth and gums at every stage of your life.

If it’s been more than six months since your last appointment, schedule a dental exam as soon as possible. You may not necessarily notice symptoms of a cavity or gum disease right away, so we want to catch any problems as early as possible to prevent permanent damage to your teeth and gums.

For more information about tooth decay prevention and treatment, contact us at Arden Dental Group today to schedule an appointment at our office in the greater Asheville, North Carolina, area.