My dentist says I have a cavity and that I need a filling. But why doesn’t my tooth hurt?
Babusahabpalya, Bengaluru Feb 9, 2017
Teeth are nothing but layers of hard tissue embedded in the gums. But sometimes the oral bacteria act on the food remnants in the mouth and make acid that can break down the outermost enamel and the next layer, dentin, creating a pit-like structure called cavity.
The symptoms of cavities are:
- A spontaneous toothache.
- Tooth sensitivity.
- Pain when you bite down.
- Severe pain while eating or drinking.
- Pits/holes in your teeth.
- Brown, black or white staining on the surface of a tooth.
Sometimes these tiny little holes cause no pain but remember that no pain doesn’t mean no problem.
Why no pain and why should it be treated?
To understand this we have to understand the two main types of cavities first and they are:
These tiny pits exist only within the enamel and don’t penetrate to the deeper layers of the tooth. Therefore, it can usually be reversed with the use of fluoride. Reversible or enamel-only cavities don’t cause pain since there are no sensitive nerve endings in the enamel.
Irreversible cavities are the ones that penetrate a little deeper (from enamel to the dentin). Like enamel, dentin does not have any nerve endings, therefore, such cavities are painless too. However, if not treated soon then this type of tooth decay will worsen gradually and reach the pulp, where the nerves and blood vessels reside. This may cause enormous tooth pain.
Late-stage untreated cavities may cause:
- Pain while chewing or consuming food or beverages (hot or cold).
- Tooth or gum infections.
- The development of an abscess at the root of the tooth.
- The weakening of the tooth/teeth.
- Severe oral pain.
Remember, the sooner the treatment, the better the result. Therefore, when your dentist suggests you for a filling do it, because it is much easier to treat, cost-effective and less painful.