Do Cavities Hurt?

Why do cavities hurt?

Cavities (teeth) are areas of the teeth that become eroded by decay over the course of time. Cavities can range in size from the size of a pinpoint to the size of the tooth. The longer cavities remain on the tooth the worse they become.

Do cavities hurt?

In the initial stages, cavities are painless and most individuals may not realize they have them unless they visit their dentist, who finds them during a routine exam or a procedure. As time goes on, they become larger and deeper.

When the cavity begins to penetrate the dentin and reaches the nerve, it begins to create pain. The pain can become severe for some people, which can restrict their diet and activities.

Eventually, if not treated, the cavity will kill the nerve in the tooth and the teeth will no longer feel pain. At that point, the tooth will crumble and can possibly need pulling to prevent infection and complications.

What causes cavities?

Cavities begin when plaque and tartar that sits on teeth for an extended period of time start to cause decay. These substances erode the enamel of the tooth and begin to decay into the tooth. Brushing teeth thoroughly after meals and flossing regularly are the best way to help prevent cavities.

Although good oral hygiene is the best preventative measure, it doesn't mean that you can't develop a cavity and not know it. You must visit the dentist regularly in order to know if you have cavities.The earlier you revise treatment, the better the outcome for your teeth. If you can catch the cavities when they are small, the procedure to fix the problem is much easier.

If you begin to experience pain when you eat sweet food or bite down onto a certain area of the teeth, it means that it is time for a check-up so the dentist can identify the source of the pain. In many cases, it is a cavity that needs treatment to prevent additional erosion of the tooth.

If you experience mild tooth pain you should make an appointment and in the time between the appointment, you can use an over the counter medication to numb the affected area. If the pain is severe, you can request an emergency visit or ask for a referral to an emergency dentist.

The procedure to fix a cavity consists of thoroughly cleaning the area and then removing the decayed tooth matter and the surrounding areas. Once the dentist removes the decay, he or she then fills the hole with a special material that hardens to look like a part of your tooth.

The procedure is usually quick and painless and takes anywhere from fifteen minutes to a half an hour. Once you finish with the procedure your teeth will look as good as new, and no one should detect the filling unless you tell them.


Prevention of cavities is very important and should start as soon as one year of age. Children need to regularly see the dentist, usually every six months, to monitor their dental progress and catch any issues before they can cause pain and infections.

Teach children how to properly brush their teeth and not miss areas. They should also receive instruction on how to properly floss their teeth to get the plaque and food out of the spaces and crevices of the teeth where cavities are most likely to form.

Adults should be very vigilant about their oral hygiene and brush after every meal. Brush your teeth before bed and refrain from eating right before bed without brushing. Some foods that contain high levels of sugar or acid can accelerate the process of tooth decay. Avoid these foods, and if you do consume them rinse with still water afterward to neutralize the sugars. Leave about 30 minutes to one hour before brushing your teeth after consuming acidic foods and drink so as not to cause further erosion to softened enamel.

Having your teeth cleaned regularly by a dental hygienist or the dentist is also a great way to remove tartar that can cause tooth decay. Schedule a cleaning at least every six months to keep your teeth clean and healthy.

Cavities come from plaque and debris that erodes the teeth. Cavities can become very painful if not treated immediately. Learn good oral hygiene to prevent cavities and other oral issues.

Last Reviewed:
June 22, 2017
Last Updated:
October 12, 2017