Dental examinations are usually recommended every six months, in order to detect cavities at an early stage and to allow stagnant plaque and tarter to be removed, before it can damage the teeth and gingival tissues. Often early stages of decay and gingivitis are relatively painless. Tooth decay is a common disorder, second only to the common cold. It most often occurs in children and young adults, but can affect anyone with poor oral hygiene. Tooth decay is the most common cause of tooth loss in young people. Although large cavities can cause pain eventually, most small to medium ones usually do not hurt, unless they grow very large and affect nerves or cause a tooth fracture. I find that where their teeth are concerned many people reassure themselves by thinking that if nothing hurts they have no teeth problems. Unfortunately, this is not always true. The best way to determine whether decay is present is an examination by a dentist. Untreated tooth decay also destroys the inside of the tooth called the pulp, this requires more extensive treatment such as root canal treatments or possibly the removal of the tooth if damage is too far gone. In the early stages of decay, you may not feel anything at all. There are no nerves in the enamel of the tooth so when decay is in that layer, its likely you wont feel a thing. Once the decay has progressed enough to reach the softer tissues inside the tooth, where the dentine and nerves are you might experience signs of a cavity. Cavity pain can feel fairly mild or it might be sharp and intense. Some people also feel pain when they bite down, after eating sweets, hot foods or cold foods. Depending on its size, you might be able to see the cavity in your mouth. Cavities sometimes create visible holes or stains that can be black, brown or white in colour. Xrays help detect inter-proximal decay and a bright light and a dental explorer are helpful to find occlusal, buccal and lingual decay. At MD we recommend taking fresh xrays every 3-4 years so we can check between the teeth and the roots of the teeth for anything suspicious un visible to the naked eye.