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Why do cavities hurt?

  • Author: Shelby Tatomir

Cavities are no fun, but they can be treated. The trouble is, you may not know it is there, and other times you might feel it. Find out why cavities hurt, what causes them, and how to prevent cavities.

First, what are cavities?

Cavities are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of your teeth, created by bacteria. Bacteria in your mouth increase when you eat sugar or starch, which turn into plaque. The acid from the plaque is what causes tooth decay and cavities.  

Why do cavities hurt?

The damaged area of the tooth first affects the hard, protective layer – the enamel – of the tooth, but reaches deeper layers if it is untreated. The deeper the decay is in the tooth, the more painful it will be because it is closer to your nerves. 

How to treat cavities

Cavities can be stopped in their early stages before needing a filling. That’s why it’s important to visit the dentist regularly for cleanings, exams, and x-rays; so cavities can be detected as soon as possible. You’ll save money and discomfort of more extensive treatments.

The common treatments for cavities include: 

·      Fluoride treatments are topical treatments used at the very beginning of a cavity can restore enamel and reverse the cavity.

·      Silver diamine fluoride is a relatively new topical treatment that can stop more advanced decay without the need for a traditional filling.

·      Fillings are used when the cavity reaches the dentin, the surface below the enamel. The dentist cleans out the area and fills it with one of several materials

·      Crowns are used when the cavity affects a large portion of the tooth and removing the cavity would weaken the tooth.

How to prevent cavities

The best way to prevent cavities is to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss regularly, visit your dentist regularly, and limit your intake of sugary drinks and foods. Using your dental benefits for preventive care will help you avoid the pain of cavities and the cost of repairing them later.

Need to schedule a preventive care appointment? Click here to find a dentist near you.

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