What Causes Cavity Pain?

Cavity pain due to a cavity (or multiple cavities) is caused as a result of failure to clean teeth properly, perpetual eating and drinking of liquids that are very sugary among other unhealthy practices.

What Causes Cavity Pain and How to Stop It?

Cavity pain in the teeth is caused by the cavities that are actually the parts of the resistant surface of the teeth that are damaged leading to formation of tiny holes or openings on them. Apart from the causes of cavity pain that we have mentioned above, cavity pain, also known as tooth decay pain can also result from a combination of other factors that include bacteria existing within the oral cavity which produces acids that help to corrode and disintegrate the teeth in the mouth.

Cavity pain is ranked among the most common health complications in the world due to their prevalence in children, adults and even teenagers. However, cavity pain can affect anyone with teeth including infants.

Failure to treat cavities leads to severe cavity pain and untreated cavities expand which eventually affects the deeper teeth layers. The result is usually extreme cavity pain that can lead to extraction of the teeth. Dental cavity pain can be prevented through a combination of habits such as proper tooth brushing and frequent or properly planned dental visits.

Why do People get Cavity Pain?

When the bacteria along with the food particles remains in the mouth and the mouth acid combined, they result to a substance that is very sticky which then sticks on the teeth. The acid found in the plaque is responsible for corroding the surface of the teeth and thus creating cavity and leading to cavity pain.

The Major Causes of Cavity Pain Includes:

  1. Poor hygienic conditions in the mouth leads to cavity pain.
  2. Sugar deposits in the mouth can cause cavity pain. The production of acids by the mouth bacteria can result to cavities reasoning to cavity pain. Also foods taken can spark the process, including fruits, bread, potatoes and other foods that have sugar in them.
  3. Acids produced by bacteria and also foods disintegrate the enamel hence weakening the teeth and resulting to cavity pain or tooth decay pain. Frequent consumption of acidic foods will accelerate tooth decay and leads to cavity pain.
  4. The assumption that children are more prone to having cavity pain more than adults is not entirely true. Cavity pain is more common in older people because the tooth decays sometimes penetrate to the sensory tips of the teeth. Adults get cavity pain due to the fact that they engage their teeth a lot than kids and the cavity pain is a result of lack of fluoride or proper dental care during tender ages. Over time, the teeth get weakened and disintegrate making holes that are later decayed by the bacteria that occupy them causing severe cavity pain.

Cavity pain is caused by development of teeth decay and tooth decay is a process which occurs over a period of time as explained below:

  • Formation of plaque is the first step in causing cavity pain. The mouth contains varied bacteria types resulting from foods and drinks which are sugary. Failure to clean sugars from the teeth provides the bacteria with something to feed on resulting to production of acids. This eventually results to a substance that can stick on the teeth called plaque. The plaque can be easily noticed by rolling the teeth over the back teeth and it hardens over time if not removed providing a perfect hiding place for bacteria.
  • Attack by plaque is the second step in causing cavity pain. The plaque acid disintegrates the outer enamel leading to formation of tiny openings in the initial stages. Complete erosion of the enamel exposes the dentine to the acid corrosion leading to spread of the decay due to the softness of the dentin.
  • Continued decay is the major step reasoning to cavity pain. The continued action of the bacteria and the acid advances the decay to the inner parts of the tooth referred to as pulp having nerves and vessels of blood. The result is cavity pain, swelling, severe toothache, a lot of sensitivity or pain during biting. The body can respond to the infection from the bacteria through fighting aided by the white blood cells that may result to formation of pus.

Bacteria that causes cavity pain are consumers of simple sugars which they transform to acidic plaque that differs from periodontal plaque. Acid plaque softens and disintegrates the inorganic enamel layer and the dentin. After softening, the saliva dissolves the layers resulting to cavities and leading to cavity pain. If not repaired, the cavities can expand to the pulp and also result to puss due to infection. Damage of the tooth pulp can be rectified by tooth removal or replacement of the dying pulp.

Since the enamel of infants' teeth are still porous and immature, they often more likely get affected by dental caries and cavity pain as compared to adults. The enamel in children takes at least 7 years to be completely replaced by a more mature and hard layer.

The bacteria that cause cavity pain are similar to other useful bacteria of the oral cavity and are therefore cumbersome to eliminate. They include the following:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria causing cavity pain. This bacteria dwells in the spaces of chewing teeth surfaces. These can bring about widespread decay of teeth and cavity pain in children aged 3 to 12 and they damage milk teeth and the initial permanent molars.
  • Streptococcus is bacteria that are of six different species and they damage the side smooth teeth surfaces that touch the teeth adjacent and causes cavity pain. The holes on such sides are usually difficult to notice unless X-rays are used.
  • Another cavity pain causing bacteria is an odontomyces viscose bacterium which thrives behind the tongue where they affect the cementum, which is the outer part of the root that is hard and is usually immersed in dental bone. Older patients and even those having gum disease are more vulnerable to effects by these bacteria which causes cavity pain.

What are the Different Types of Cavities Causing Cavity Pain?

Cavity pains result from holes that develop in the teeth due to teeth decay. As shown above, the cavities leading to cavity pain are of three types.

  1. Smooth Surface Cavities Causing Cavity Pain: Those holes that develop sideways of the teeth are referred to as smooth surface cavities which leads to cavity pain.
  2. Root Cavities Causing Cavity Pain: On the other hand, the ones that establish on the roots at surfaces are referred to as root cavities which reasons to cavity pain.
  3. Pit and Fissure Cavity Causing to Cavity Pain: The cavities developing on the teeth surfaces used for chewing are known as cavities of the pit and fissures which leads to cavity pain.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Cavity Pain?

Signs and symptoms of dental cavity pain vary depending on where they occur and their extent. At the initial stages, there might be no symptoms, but the following signs and symptoms might also be exhibited as the decay continues along with pain in the cavity:

  • Sensitivity of the teeth.
  • Pain of varied degree while eating or drinking cold, sweet or hot foods.
  • Visible teeth cavities.
  • Sticky and shiny plaque substance on the teeth.
  • Pain during biting.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Cavity Pain?

What are the Risk Factors for Cavity Pain?

Although everyone having teeth is capable of experiencing cavity pain, the following are some of the factors that increase the risk of cavity pain:

  • Location of tooth is a risk factor for cavity pain. Cavities and decay normally affect molars and premolars due to the fact that they have ridges and groves that easily collect food debris. They are also difficult to reach and therefore cumbersome to clean compared to those in front. As such, the bacteria can easily dwell on them and plaque can stick on them hence resulting to acid production that accelerates decay through enamel disintegration.
  • Different food and drink types can be a risk factor for causing cavity pain. Foods that can stick to teeth over longer periods of time pose more risk of decay than those which are removed easily by saliva. Such foods staffs include ice creams, milk, sugar, honey, cakes, chips and the likes.
  • Habitual sipping and eating of snacks can be a possibility for causing cavity pain. Frequent sipping of sugary drinks such as soda gives more power to the bacteria found in the mouth for more acid production which accelerated tooth decay. In fact, such habits help to create an acid bath in the mouth.
  • Feeding infants at bedtime can be a prospect for cavity pain. Bed time bottles filled with juices, milk and other sugary baby drinks are not encouraged during bed time because these liquids remain on teeth for longer hours and the bacteria are therefore provided with correct medium for decay. This phenomenon is referred to as baby bottle tooth decay.
  • Improper ways of brushing can be a reason for cavity pain. Failure to clean teeth soon after eating leads to formation of plaque and thus decay begins.
  • Inadequate fluoride is a risk factor for causing cavity pain. Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally and is very essential in prevention and reversal of early stage tooth decay. Fluoride is usually added to public water channels and is also commonly found in toothpastes due to its great significance in preventing tooth decay.
  • Research has shown that teenagers are more likely to experience tooth cavity pain than adults in USA. The decay can occur over time when gums recede causing exposure of the root of teeth to decay and cause pain. The medication in the old age may tamper with saliva flow and therefore increase the risk of teeth decay.
  • Oral dryness can lead to cavity pain. Reduced amount of saliva in the mouth to wash off foods from the teeth can increase the risk of cavity pain. The components of saliva are important in countering the effects of the bacteria-produced acid and repair of initial tooth decay. Therefore, certain chemotherapy medications and some medical conditions can affect the composition of saliva and even reduce its production thus increasing risk of tooth decay.
  • Worn out dental fillings is a risk factor and can cause cavity pain. Dental fillings can become weak and wear out over time and this makes it easy for plaque to form and harden thus becoming cumbersome to remove it. Also decay can start beneath the dental devices which fail to fit well.
  • Eating disorders can be a risk for causing cavity pain. Disorder such as anorexia result to cavities. Gastric acids brought to the mouth through vomiting can act on the teeth leading to disintegration of the outer surface of the tooth and interfering with production of saliva.
  • Heartburn is a risk factor for cavity pain. This can cause to the flow of gastric acid to the oral cavity hence leading to corrosion of the enamel. Sometimes dentists are forced to refer patients to medical doctors to investigate the cause of enamel disintegration.

What are the Complications in Cavity Pain?

Since cavity pain is very common, they are often assumed especially in children. It is however important to note that cavities causing cavity pain can have significant complications that are long lasting and even among tender age children, they can cause serious tooth damages and complications including:

  • Formation of puss in the gum
  • Teeth breakage
  • Pain during chewing
  • Teeth dislocation due to premature loss of baby teeth.

Serious cavities and decay may result to:

  • Severe cavity pain which leads to interference with routine activities such as attending school.
  • Nutritional complications such as excessive weight loss resulting from eating difficulties.
  • Loss of teeth which negatively affects appearance, confidence as well as self esteem.
  • Life threatening tooth abscess in few cases.

What Tests are Conducted to Detect Cavity Pain?

Dentists can detect cavity pain through:

  • Enquiry on tooth sensitivity and cavity pain.
  • Oral examination
  • Checking teeth to identify soft parts
  • Dental X-ray showing extent of caries.

Dental examination will help to reveal the type of dental cavity pain (smooth surface cavity, root cavity, pit & fissure cavity) you have.

How to Stop Cavity Pain?

What is the Treatment for Cavity Pain?

A cavity, also known as dental caries is an opening in the teeth that is capable of expanding and deepening. The best thing is to repair any cavities in the teeth before they get too worse to an extent of affecting the root and reaching the pulp, a condition that may necessitate tooth extraction.

Many times dentists recommend that people have frequent dental checkups to identify cavity pain at an early stage. This helps to prevent further damage and facilitate reversal of the decay. Treatment of cavities before cavity pain begins help to prevent further extensive dental treatment.

Depending on severity and situation of cavities, treatment options for reducing and eliminating cavity pain can include:

  1. Fluoride Treatment for Cavity Pain

    At initial stages, fluoride treatment for cavity pain is essential in restoring the enamel. Professionally prepared fluoride is more effective than that of the tap water or tooth paste. Fluoride treatment ranges from liquid forms to gel, foam or even vanish that can be either fitted over your tooth on a special tray or smeared on the teeth for a few minutes.

  2. Restoration Treatment for Cavity Pain

    Probably the most common treatment especially for advanced decay cavity pain is the restoration/ fillings. Filling materials can be made of various materials such as aluminum, coloured resins or even porcelain that are fitted in the cavities. The silvered filling materials might contain mild amounts of mercury.

  3. Crown Treatment for Cavity Pain

    In cases of extensive decay with severe cavity pain that has made the teeth week, a crown can be fitted on the teeth by drilling out all the decayed parts and some parts of the teeth. This is called crown fitting treatment. Crowns can be made of gold, metal fused-porcelain or resin materials.

  4. Root Canal Treatment for Cavity Pain

    Root canal treatment for cavity pain is a kind of fitting that is done in cases where the decay has reached the pulp. The dead pulp is done away with and medication put into the cavity to eradicate any infection and thereafter, the pulp is filled with replacing material. This is done to save the severely damaged tooth as an alternative to extraction.

  5. Tooth Removal Treatment for Cavity Pain

    Extraction of teeth is normally an option for greatly decayed teeth with severe cavity pain that are beyond restoration. This however creates a gap that can cause shifting of the other teeth and therefore, dental implant in the gap is highly recommended.

What is the Recovery Period from Cavity Pain?

Recovery period or healing time for cavity pain depends on the severity of the damage. Reversal of tooth decay can be done at initial stages. White spots on the enamel may be an indication of the disintegration that has not damaged the tooth so much. These can be reversed by stopping the acid damage to the enamel, which allows the tooth to repair naturally.

On the other hand, the cavity pain caused by cavities that have already caused destruction to the enamel are irreversible. Most cavities causing cavity pain continue eroding the tooth and deepening until the infection reaches the root. The time taken for this to happen however, differs from person to person and so the cavity pain can stop after only months or even years.

What is the Prognosis for Cavity Pain?

Untreated cavities result to uncontrollable cavity pain and decay that eventually destroy teeth. Cavity pain increase chances of more tooth decay because:

  • More decay means more decay-causing bacteria potential in the mouth.
  • Poor oral care and eating habits that cause cavity pain or tooth decay pain are more likely to increase the decay.
  • Fillings are rougher than the tooth surface and therefore bacteria stick easily on them meaning that there is a likelihood of new cavities and more cavity pain.
  • Occurrence of cracks in the fillings may lead to decay from beneath due to deposition of bacteria and food debris and lead to severe cavity pain.

What are the Suggested Home Remedies for Cavity Pain?

The following are the suggested home remedies for cavity pain:

  • Brushing the teeth after eating or drinking is the best practice for eliminating or preventing the cause of cavity pain. However, you should ensure that you use fluoride toothpaste every time you brush. Flossing or using dental cleaner helps in cleaning between the teeth in your mouth. In case you are unable to brush after a meal, mouth rinsing with water can help a lot. Note that dental advice should be sort as to how much toothpaste should be used on the tooth brushes of young children to avoid excessive use of fluoride.
  • In cases where dentists detect high risk of cavity infection, fluoride mouth rinsing will be essential.
  • Regular dental check up is recommended for professional cleaning of the teeth and general oral examination which helps in preventing cavity pain or tooth decay pain and reversing them in early stages. However, the frequency of the checks can be best advised by the dentist.
  • Dental sealants should be considered as a measure of preventing cavity pain. Sealants are normally materials that are meant to seal the groves existing above surfaces used for chewing in the molars and premolars by covering them and thereby preventing food materials from collecting in them. The significance of sealants is protection of the enamel against the acid and plaque in children and adults. Disease control centers that deal with the prevention of the cavity pain highly recommends that all children in within school age use protective sealants. Although sealants can remain in good condition for over 10 years, frequent examination and checking is necessary.
  • Drinking water from the public water supplies is essential because of the presence of fluoride in them. Bottled water may lack fluoride and is therefore not very helpful to your dental health.
  • Habitual constant snacking and sipping of sugary foods and drinks should be avoided to reduce or eliminate cavity pain. This is because such foods increase acid in your mouth that constantly attacks your enamel leading to tooth decay.
  • Consumption of foodstuffs that are helpful to teeth is essential. Foods that have the tendency of sticking on your teeth for very long times such as chips, cakes, candy have to be avoided and if not so, teeth should be thoroughly brushed after eating them to wash the remains off the teeth. Some foods are however very useful to the teeth because the clean the teeth besides increasing the saliva flow. Such include fruits that are fresh and also vegetables, sugarless gum and coffee or tea.
  • In cases where one is deprived of fluoride from the drinking water, dentists can recommend fluoride treatments periodically to help prevent or reverse cavity pain or tooth decay pain. Therefore, this should be considered as a way of preventing or dealing with dental cavity pain.
  • Antibacterial treatments should also be sorted as a remedial measure towards fighting cavity pain. In cases where you are vulnerable or extremely exposed to dental cavity pain due to your health conditions, you dentist might recommend the use of certain rinses that are antibacterial in nature. This is used as a measure of reducing the bacteria that are responsible for causing tooth decay in the mouth of the patient and reduce the cavity pain.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: July 19, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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