What are the symptoms of dental caries

What are the Symptoms of Dental Caries?

What are the symptoms of dental caries

Dental caries is the professional term that is used to describe cavities and tooth decay. It’s caused by bacteria that produces acid, breaking down your teeth. At some point in your life, it is common that you will be affected by either tooth decay and / or cavities. In fact, approximately 1/3 of the world’s population will be affected.

What to look out for?

A common misconception is that the primary symptom is pain, however, there are many other symptoms that may be present that can be signs you are experiencing dental decay. If decay has already created a cavity, it will appear in colour as either yellow or black. However, it is not just the colour or pain of your tooth that are signs. Understanding the symptoms will help you recover quicker.



The truth of the matter is, most people affected by dental caries, don’t realise it. This is due to very subtle early signs, such as small white spots on a tooth. At this point, your tooth enamel is losing its mineral content. This is crucial time that a dentist can catch the problem and professionally clean the tooth to avoid decay, otherwise, the white spots will begin to turn brown.

Once the spots have turned brown, the decay is considered ‘active’. This means decay is eating away at the tooth enamel, and this is when you might notice some more obvious symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Visible pits and holes in teeth
  • Pronounced tooth sensitivity (especially to food and drinks too hot or cold)
  • Pain when biting into food


Depending on the location and extent of the dental caries, indications and signs will be different. However, as the early on signs are almost unnoticeable, it will be hard to ignore once infection continues, usually leading to severe pain if left for too long. As always, the most important part of any dental health issue is regular visits to the dentist. Regular and professional cleans as well as check-ups is a great way to look out for dental caries.

If you think you have any of the symptoms above book a consultation with Dr Kate Amos or Dr Sam Rosehill at Ethical Dental on (02) 6652 3185 or book online. To learn more about dental caries check out our articles ‘How does dental caries differ from dental cavities?.


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