Cavities, which are decayed areas of the teeth, are one of the most common oral health problems faced around the world. If not treated, cavities can cause infection, toothache and ultimately total tooth loss. It is important to your overall health to maintain a healthy smile. Here are six symptoms to watch out for.

1. Bad Breath
If tooth decay is ignored, bacteria will increase, leading to bad breath. When you start noticing bad breath and you are brushing your teeth and tongue regularly, you should visit your dentist to check for the possibility of cavities.

2. Bad Taste
Gargle with mouthwash and brush your teeth and tongue to rid the bad taste in your mouth. But if you notice a chronic bad taste, get your teeth checked out as it may be a sign that a cavity needs to be cleaned out and filled.

3. Tooth Pain
Tooth pain is often associated with a cavity. The pain is usually evident if the cavity has been left untreated for a long period of time. You should alert your dentist if you are experiencing a tooth ache. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

4. Tooth Sensitivity
A sensitive tooth can mean a cavity. The tooth will be especially sensitive when you drink something hot or cold but is fine otherwise. You can try some sensitive tooth toothpaste, but if it doesn’t alleviate any of the symptoms you should visit your dentist.

5. Dark Spots
When cavities have gone for long periods of time without treatment, they are usually visible to the eye. A cavity will appear as a dark spot on the infected tooth. If you notice discoloration, you should visit your dentist right away!

6. Holes
Sometimes you can see a hole on top of the tooth or feel it with your tongue. If you find one of these holes, you likely have a cavity. You need to schedule an appointment with your dentist right away so that the hole can be properly filled.

7. Poor oral hygiene
During orthodontic care poor oral hygiene can lead to enamel decalcification, or “white spot lesions” on teeth. These are very unsightly, and can ruin an orthodontic finish and an otherwise beautiful smile. If you notice with white spot lesions, the area under the brace is protected, but plaque can build around the brace leaving “windows” of decalcified enamel in the tooth, which is also a first sign before a cavity occurs.

If you have one of the above mentioned signs or symptoms, you should visit your dentist as soon as possible. Seeking treatment early can save you money and pain down the road. It’s important to get regular exams and cleanings, practice good oral care habits, and reduce sugary foods and liquids. Prevention is vital to a healthy smile that will last a lifetime.