Why Do Cavities Hurt? Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

Why Do Cavities Hurt? Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

Mar 01, 2023

Despite recent technology in dental care, cavities and tooth decay remains some of the world’s most common health problems among people of all ages. Cavities are permanently damaged parts of a tooth that develop into tiny holes or pits. Also known as dental caries, cavities result from various factors like dental trauma, inadequate oral hygiene, and bacterial attacks.

Anyone who has teeth can develop cavities. However, they are more common in children, infants, teenagers, and older adults. Fortunately, routine dental checkups can help detect cavities and treat them early on.

Causes and Risk Factors for Cavities

Many factors can lead to the development of cavities. These include:

  • Inadequate brushing and flossing: Not brushing twice daily and flossing at least once encourages plaque and bacterial buildup in the mouth, increasing the risk of cavities and oral infections. Children are at a greater risk of cavities since they may not adequately brush and floss their teeth.
  • Certain medications: Certain medications, specifically those that cause dry mouth, are known to cause cavities and tooth decay. These can include antidepressants and buprenorphine and medical procedures like chemotherapy.
  • Vigorous brushing: Brushing too hard can erode your tooth’s enamel and cause receding gums, increasing your risk of cavities and gum disease.
  • Dry mouth: A dry mouth happens when there’s limited saliva production and flow. It makes your mouth more vulnerable to acidic attracts from bacteria.
  • Certain health conditions: Certain conditions like heartburn and GERD reflux can cause acid reflux, which erodes teeth to cause cavities.
  • Sugary, acidic, and starchy foods and beverages: These items encourage bacteria growth in the mouth that causes acids that erode your teeth to cause cavities.

What are the signs of a cavity?

The signs and symptoms of cavities develop gradually and can vary depending on the location and stage of the cavity. In the beginning, you might have any symptoms. Symptoms are more evident once decay has reached the dentin and pulp. Signs to watch out for include:

  • Persistent toothache or pain that occurs when biting down
  • Persistent bad breath or oral taste
  • Facial swelling or pain
  • Tooth sensitivity to heat, sugar, or cold
  • Redness, swelling, or soreness of the gum tissues
  • Bleeding gums, especially when brushing
  • Visible holes or pits in a tooth
  • White, brown, or black spots on the teeth

Contact our Concord dentist near you if you have any of these symptoms. The quicker you get dental care, the better the chance of saving your tooth.

Why do cavities hurt?

A cavity often begins at the outer hardest layer of the tooth, the enamel. The enamel protects the inner parts of the tooth against external factors like extreme heat, cold, and impact forces.

Once cavities have damaged the enamel, the underlying sensitive structures, like the dentin and pulp (which contain the tooth’s nerves, blood vessels, and other tissues), are exposed, causing pain. Visit the best dentist in Concord, MA, if you have a painful tooth.

How is pain from a cavity treated?

There are several ways to minimize pain when you have a cavity. These include:

  • Pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen
  • Cold therapy
  • Warm salt water rinses
  • Applying numbing gels to soothe tooth pain
  • Better oral care like daily brushing and flossing
  • Fluoride treatments or toothpaste

How are cavities treated?

Your treatment for cavities will depend on the severity of your condition. Cavities on the enamel are treated with less invasive methods, while deeper holes need more invasive treatments. So, the sooner you seek treatment, the easier it will be to treat your cavity. Common treatments for cavities include:

  • Fluoride treatments. They help remineralize the teeth and reverse a cavity.
  • Dental filings. It involves removing the damaged parts of the tooth and filling the holes with a filling material.
  • Root canal therapy. It involves removing the tooth’s pulp to prevent infection and save the tooth.
  • Dental crowns. If a cavity has greatly damaged your tooth structure, a crown can reinforce the tooth and protect it from further damage.
  • Tooth extraction. Removing the tooth may be the best remedy if you have an extremely damaged tooth beyond saving.

How to Prevent Cavities

Generally, cavities are preventable. Use the following tips to keep your mouth healthy and prevent cavities and other oral problems:

  • Brush and floss daily. Use a soft brush and fluoride toothpaste. Brush gently.
  • Limit or avoid sugary, highly pigmented, acidic, and starchy foods.
  • Get dental sealants.
  • Get fluoride treatments.
  • Schedule routine dental exams and cleanings in Concord, MA.

Do you have a cavity?

Contact Concord Woods Dental Group to book your dentist appointment today for more information about cavities and how to treat them.

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