What Do Cavities Feel Like?
The consumption of cold or sugary treats or beverages often results in the onset of cavities. Initially, a dull ache may be felt, which could gradually intensify over time and become increasingly painful. It is possible for the affected area to also experience tenderness.
The intensity of pain caused by a severe cavity can persist for a few seconds or even longer. It’s noteworthy that the discomfort associated with cavities tends to vary depending on each individual. While some people might only experience mild discomfort, others may undergo severe pain.
It is recommended to promptly seek the assistance of a qualified dentist upon detecting any symptoms of a possible cavity, allowing for prompt identification and diagnosis of the issue, as well as professional guidance on the subsequent course of action.
How to Tell If You Have a Cavity
The formation of dental caries, commonly referred to as cavities, occurs when bacteria present in plaque metabolize the sugar content from food. The resulting acid attacks the tooth’s enamel and gradually wears it away if not promptly removed by proper dental hygiene procedures. Due to the absence of nerves in the enamel, detecting the formation of a cavity during early stages of tooth decay is unlikely. It is only when the decay spreads to the softer tissues where the dentin and nerves reside that symptoms of a cavity become evident, such as:
- Tooth pain or sensitivity: The dentin is composed of minuscule tubules that are packed with microscopic nerve endings. In the event of an exposure, your teeth can experience heightened sensitivity to foods and beverages that are hot, cold, acidic, or sugary in nature. Additionally, it may result in toothache or a sharp pain while chewing.
- Holes or pits in your teeth: The onset of enamel erosion may lead to an unsightly rough surface on the affected tooth which can be felt through the tongue. Additionally, these erosions can also serve as a trap for food particles, and their prominence in the oral cavity is dependent on the severity of the cavity.
- Black, brown, or white stains: At times, the ingestion of certain food items or beverages can lead to surface discoloration on your tooth enamel. Nevertheless, it’s vital to note that cavities may manifest themselves as white, brown, or black blemishes on your teeth as well. As per the guidelines of the American Dental Association (ADA), if bacterial acid corrodes the tooth enamel, a whitish spot may appear in the affected region, which can be remedied with proper healing. If left without treatment for a prolonged period, the spot may manifest into a brown or black cavity.
How to Treat Cavity Pain
It is essential to schedule an appointment with your dentist without delay if you suspect the presence of a cavity. The reversal of cavities is possible during their initial stages, but once you experience discomfort or pain, only a qualified dentist can provide the necessary treatment. At the time of your appointment, an x-ray will be taken to assess the extent of the decay. The treatment plan for your cavity will be established based on its severity. A filling may be adequate if the decay is not severe; however, severely decayed teeth may require an extraction, root canal therapy, or crown placement.
In the event that you are unable to schedule an immediate appointment with your dentist, there are a number of at-home remedies and over-the-counter medications that you can utilize to attain temporary relief from cavity pain.
- Rinse with warm saltwater: To clean food debris from the cavity and alleviate inflammation, it can be beneficial to mix a teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of warm water and use it as a rinse. However, it is critical to avoid using hot or cold water, as extreme temperatures can exacerbate cavity pain.
- Swab the area with clove oil: Eugenol, an active component found in clove oil, serves as a natural anesthetic and antibacterial agent that can alleviate oral inflammation. To mitigate the pain, moisten a small piece of clean tissue or cotton swab with clove oil and delicately dab it over the affected area until the discomfort subsides.
- Brush with a toothpaste for sensitive teeth: To alleviate discomfort caused by exposed dentin, employ a toothbrush with soft bristles and an over-the-counter desensitizing toothpaste to obstruct the nerve endings.
- Take an OTC pain reliever: Over-the-counter (OTC) analgesics such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can provide short-term relief for tooth cavity discomfort. However, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional to determine if they are suitable for your specific condition before using them.
Regular dental visits and professional cleanings are imperative for maintaining good oral health, even if you are unsure if a cavity exists. During these appointments, skilled dental hygienists can administer fluoride treatments to reinforce teeth and counteract the initial development of decay. Professional dental practitioners are capable of providing you with valuable insights regarding optimal brushing techniques and informing you about dietary habits that can heighten your susceptibility to cavities. It is significantly simpler to implement preventive measures towards cavities rather than undergoing extensive treatments in the future.