Do cavities hurt? If you are experiencing severe tooth pain, and wondering what might be the reason for it, developing a cavity might be one of the reasons.
Cavities are not new, they are the most prevailing tooth problem that people of any age group can come across.
In case, you don’t have any prior experience of suffering from cavity pain, you may not be able to quickly recognize one either.
Also, cavities may hurt or not depending on their size. So, let us find out more about the cavity and its impact on the tooth.
1. What are Cavities?
Cavities are areas present in the hard surface of your teeth, that get damaged forever, and then go on to evolve into a small hole or an opening.
A cavity is nothing but a bacterial infection and is also known by the name dental caries or tooth decay. If not detected on time, it will result in infection, and leaving this without getting treated will result in tooth loss.
It doesn’t matter if your cavity hurts or not, you must take care of it immediately by visiting a dentist, as cavities do not get cured on their own.
2. Why Does a Cavity Occur?
When you consume food and beverages and fail to clean your teeth perfectly, bacteria from these items will get settled on your teeth resulting in the formation of plaque – a sticky substance.
The accumulation of this plaque is the reason that cavities occur, and plaque is acidic in nature. Do you get cavities even when you brush your teeth properly?
The answer is yes, you will. This is because your teeth contain many indentations as well as crevasses, and the food you consume may get settled in these places which are difficult to access.
Thus begins the decay – the starting point for cavities to occur.
2.1. When do Cavities Hurt?
The acid starts eating away your hard outer layer of tooth enamel, and these are the places where your cavity begins to develop as small pits.
You may not endure any cavity pain during this stage. However, once the decay begins to spread, the hole starts to reach deeper layers and gets near the root of the tooth.
At this point, your pain begins. However, often this pain is mistaken for sensitive teeth.
3. What Happens Once Cavities Form?
Once a cavity is formed, as seen earlier, it eats away the hard outer layer of your tooth enamel and enters the softer layer under it.
This layer is called dentin and is very near to the nerves. The cavities then proceed to eat away the dentin too and enter the blood vessels as well as the nerves in your tooth’s center.
This region is known as the pulp. If you prolong your cavity treatment, there are chances of your bacterial infection advancing to other teeth too.
4. Are All Cavities Painful?
No, not all cavities cause pain. There may be cases where you might have small cavities, yet you will be experiencing intense pain and sensitivity.
While in some cases, your cavity might be big, however, you will experience no cavity pain at all.
This means your cavity is asymptomatic. Hence, to avoid such incidents it is best to go for routine dental checkups.
5. Why is There No Cavity Pain in Some Cases?
Your cavity might be in its early stages, and that is the reason for you to not feel any pain. Your dentist will identify it with the help of x rays. The reason you don’t experience any pain is due to the hardness of your tooth enamel.
Chances are you might come across a white spot on your teeth, or you might feel a rough patch when your tongue touches the spot where the formation of a hole is beginning to occur.
However, cavities at this point are too small to recognize, except with the help of x-rays. Hence to prevent cavities, ensure you meet your dentist regularly.
6. What Are the Cavity Symptoms to Know About?
It is vital to identify a cavity in its early stages. When your tooth enamel gets eaten away by a cavity, you will find yourself experiencing more sensitivity while brushing your teeth or while consuming hot or cold drinks.
So, here are a few symptoms you can watch out for, and rush to your dentist if necessary.
6.1. Intermittent Sensitivity
If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity while consuming sugary drinks, or any hot or cold beverages, then maybe you are having a cavity.
Yet the pain does not occur always. It subsides immediately after the substance that causes the pain is eliminated.
The reason for intermittent pain is that the decay reaches the layer called dentin. After reaching here, the nerves get exposed through a small opening. Whenever food or beverages makes contact with this nerve, it turns sensitive.
6.2. Presence of a Hole in Your Tooth
When your cavity grows, you may find a hole in your tooth. To rectify this, the treatment options include a few dental fillings, or in some cases, even a root canal.
A root canal is typically done when your tooth has an infection resulting in the tooth turning into an abscess.
Once you spot a hole, don’t panic, as there are many dental professionals to help you out. They will either do a dental filling or go for the placement of crowns (caps).
6.3. Presence of Dark Spots on Your Tooth
Your infected tooth will develop a dark spot if your cavity is left untreated for long intervals. This dark spot occurs prior to the formation of holes.
The dark spot is the stage when bacteria has started to spread into your enamel. The presence of a cavity is confirmed if you have this symptom.
6.4. Bad Breath
Bad breath occurs when bacteria infiltrate your tooth. You are likely to encounter bad breath while brushing either your teeth or tongue.
In such cases, your dentist is the best person to help.
Developing an abscess will cause you intense pain, and fever, and in some cases, your glands may swell too. You can visit your dentist who will prescribe an antibiotic to stop this abscess from becoming worse.
This antibiotic eradicates the bacteria, and also stops it from infecting the other areas in your mouth.
Now that you are aware of the symptoms, and the complications cavities cause, it is best that you opt for dental treatment. In the meantime, you can get some interim relief before your visit to the dentist.
7. Interim Relief From Cavities
These are some methods by which you can try to relieve your cavity pain.
- Usage of numbing gels – Numbing gels or OTC (over-the-counter) rinses can help soothe your tooth pain for a while.
- Performing warm salt water rinses – This method helps in eradicating bacteria, and may provide you with interim relief.
- Intake of painkillers – Painkillers give you great relief from pain, however, this is not a permanent solution.
- Using hot or cold compresses – You can try keeping these compresses outside your mouth to get some relief.
8. How to Prevent Cavities?
Though cavities, as well as tooth decay, are faced by almost everyone, you can also avoid them by maintaining good oral hygiene.
Below are also a few tips with which you can prevent cavities.
- Brushing your teeth properly is very important. It is best that you follow this twice a day. Also, make sure you brush well between your teeth, and floss can be used for this purpose.
- Rinsing your mouth with fluoride may protect you from cavities.
- Dental care is a must. Make appointments with your dentist regularly. This will let you detect problems if any very early. You may also have your teeth cleaned professionally.
- Consume foods that are teeth-friendly. Don’t have foods that have the possibility of getting stuck in hard-to-access places for a long time. In case, you consume make sure you brush your teeth immediately.
- Go for regular fluoride treatments as per the advice of your dentist. This will be suggested when you lack the required fluoride.
9. How Are Cavities Treated?
You can treat cavities only through a dentist. However, you may encounter issues other than a cavity too namely a sinus infection. Whatever the issue, it is your dentist who will diagnose the same.
Now, let us proceed to see a few treatment options for cavities.
- A dental filling is the most favored option to treat a cavity. In this process, your dentist will make the infected area numb, the infected tissue will be drilled out, and the hole will be filled.
- Next is the root canal procedure which is for teeth heavily damaged due to cavities. Here, the nerves and blood vessels at the center of the tooth are discarded, and the hole which appears as a result is filled. The entire tooth will be capped with a crown.
10. What Happens When Your Cavity Worsens?
There will be situations when your cavity becomes so worse, resulting in permanent damage to your tooth. In such cases, neither dental filling nor root canal treatment will work.
Extraction of your tooth is the only choice left. You may have your tooth replaced through a dental implant.
Now that we have seen everything about cavities, don’t you think it is time to move to the FAQs section?
What Are the Other Causes of Tooth Pain Apart From a Cavity?
Tooth sensitivity, a cracked tooth, and impending wisdom teeth might be some of the reasons for tooth pain apart from a cavity.
Can a Cavity Cause Severe Health Issues?
A cavity can be treated in most cases, and it is only in rare conditions it can lead to severe health issues including serious infections.
When do You Go for Fluoride Treatments?
You have to opt for this treatment in cases where the necessary fluoride is not sufficient.
It is very essential to maintain good oral hygiene for getting healthy teeth. If you face any mouth pain or tooth pain, visit your dentist without fail.
Routine dental checkups will help spot all abnormalities in your teeth, and then you don’t have to worry or search for the answer to the question do cavities hurt?