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Why Do Cavities Hurt?

June 15, 2020

Cavities are no fun, but they can be treated. The trouble is, sometimes we know we have a cavity, and sometimes we don’t. 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 leads to 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 begins to reach deeper layers if it is untreated. The further the decay is in the tooth, the more painful it will be because it is closer to your nerves. 

How to Treat Cavities

It is important to visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and x-rays so that cavities can be detected ASAP. Here are common treatments for cavities: 

  • Fluoride treatments at the very beginning of a cavity can restore enamel and reverse the cavity. 
  • 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 it would weaken the tooth. 


How to Prevent Cavities

The best way to prevent cavities is to brush and floss twice a day, visit your dentist regularly, and limit your intake of sugary drinks and foods. Outside factors like tobacco and alcohol use can also cause tooth decay.

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

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