Fox News (3/6, Santana) reports on foods and drinks that can cause oral health problems, such as balsamic vinegar, berries, citrus fruit, coffee, and dried fruit. Foods that are high in acid, sugar or contain dark colors may harm teeth by wearing away the enamel, providing sugar for harmful bacteria or staining the teeth. Additionally, the article advises proper oral healthcare, including regular brushing and flossing, and twice-annual dental visits in order to maintain a healthy mouth. “According to the American Dental Association, your mouth is the body’s initial point of contact with the nutrients you consume. What you put in your mouth not only impacts your health, but also your teeth, gums and, ultimately, your smile,” the article adds.

1. Your tooth is very, very painful.

Sensitivity is common, especially among teeth grinders and patients who have deteriorated tooth enamel. However, if the pain you are experiencing is far from ordinary sensitivity and you don’t see any cavity on the surface of your tooth, this is a major sign of internal decay. Once the decay reaches the pulp, the pain becomes tenfold because the pulp is directly connected to the nerves. You might even experience sleepless nights because of the pain. In such case, the only solution is to take pain relievers and pay a visit to your dentist as soon as you’ve set a schedule.

2. You have a gum abscess.

An abscess is a collection of pus which can appear anywhere near the infected tooth, usually on the gum lining. It appears as a small liquid-filled sac which can be popped. It may or may not be painful. An abscess is a definite sign of infection because the pus inside the sac comes are actually white blood cells which are trying to fight off the infection. Some abscesses can be buried deep in the gums but the pus will force its way out to the surface. If you notice any liquid formation in your gums, especially near a painful tooth, seek professional treatment immediately.

3. Your gums are red and swollen.

Red and swollen gums are common signs of periodontal disease, but a root canal infection can also reach deep into the gums in severe cases. The inflammation and pain are usually isolated to a single tooth which may also be the tooth experiencing extreme pain. In some cases, if the infection has already spread in the gums, the swelling may cover a large area with multiple teeth. If this is your current condition, don’t wait any longer. Schedule a root canal treatment with your dentist right away. If the gums become severely infected, you may end up needing a different surgery to treat the problem, like flap surgery or bone grafting.

4. Your tooth is getting darker.

Many people suffer from tooth discoloration, but it’s a different case if a single tooth is getting discolored. While it’s common to have yellowish stains on teeth because of caffeine and plaque, an infected tooth doesn’t turn yellow; it turns gray. You will notice how that single tooth darkens from the inside, unlike superficial stains from food and drinks. This is called an intrinsic stain and it can’t be resolved by teeth whitening treatment. If you have a tooth that seems to be getting grayer than the rest of your teeth, you might want to get it examined for any internal infections.

5. Your X-ray shows a deep internal decay