Cavities are spots of tooth decay that can range in size from tiny to large enough to break teeth.
According to the CDC, in 2011–2012, 91% of adults in the United States had cavities, yet many did not know it. This is because cavities do not typically hurt until they get deep enough into the tooth to affect the nerve below.
Learn more about cavity pain in this article, as well as how to get relief.
Cavity pain can range from mild to unbearable. When a cavity eats away at the enamel of a tooth, a person might find that it is more sensitive, especially when brushing the teeth or drinking hot or cold beverages.
Cavities that cause deeper damage in the tooth can affect the nerve, causing intense pain.
Sometimes, cavities can grow so large that bacteria can get into the gums, or even the bone underneath the teeth. This can cause intense, unrelenting pain, as well as serious infections.
Some symptoms a person might notice if they have a mild-to-moderate cavity include:
- Tooth sensitivity, which may feel like a stinging or burning sensation
- Occasional toothaches that go away with pain medication
- Sensitivity on one side of the mouth, especially when chewing hard foods
- Discoloration of the teeth, such as yellow, white, or brown spots
How to Get Immediate Relief
- Applying numbing gels: Some over-the-counter (OTC) gels can temporarily soothe tooth pain.
- Trying warm saltwater rinses: Warm salt water can help kill bacteria and may temporarily ease pain.
- Trying clove oil: Clove oil may help ease dental pain. Some dental numbing gels use clove oil.
- Taking OTC pain medications: Pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help soothe painful symptoms.
- Trying cold or heat therapy: A person can try applying a cold or hot pack to the outside of their mouth. Alternating these therapies may also help.
- Ensuring better oral care: Brushing or flossing can remove some of the plaque. This will not cure the cavity, but it can reduce the rate at which bacteria eat into the tooth, potentially preventing the pain from getting worse.
Tooth decay severe enough to cause pain warrants a trip to the dentist.
In some cases, there might be a non-cavity cause, such as a sinus infection or problems with the temporomandibular joint.
Only a dentist can diagnose the cause, however, so it is vital to seek prompt treatment to prevent the problem from getting worse.
Treatment depends on the severity of the cavity and where it is in the mouth. Some treatment options may include:
- Dental fillings: A dentist will drill out the cavity and then fill it with a safe substance to keep out bacteria.
- Root canals: Root canals can save a dying tooth.
- Crowns: A crown removes the outer layer of the tooth, eliminates the decay, and then uses a permanent cap to cover the entire tooth.
- Antibiotics: When a person has a serious dental infection, they may need antibiotics. People with weakened immune systems, those with a history of organ transplants, and those undergoing chemotherapy may also require antibiotics.
- Orthodontic care: Sometimes, crowded teeth or problems with the bite can increase the risk of cavities. Seeking orthodontic care, such as braces, may help.
When to see Your Dental Made Easy Dentist
A person should schedule an appointment with a dentist for any tooth or mouth pain. If the pain is intense or unbearable, they may wish to contact an emergency dentist.
A person may need emergency care if they cannot get an appointment within the next 24 hours and have any of the following symptoms:
- a fever
- physical sickness
- a headache
- swelling in the face or around the mouth
- swelling behind the ears
- pain so severe that it makes sleeping impossible
A person should seek urgent care for these symptoms, as they may mean that the infection has spread to another area of the body.
Your Dental Health
When it comes to your health, trust in the dentists at Dental Made Easy. Dental Made Easy is the best dental practice in the Forest Hills, Queens, NY 11375 area and we are open on Sundays as well as late evenings. Our new office in Garden City Park is opened and accepting new patients. It is located at 2374 Jericho Turnpike, Garden City NY 11040. We are the best dental practice in Long Island, with 5 star reviews on Google and Yelp. For a teeth cleaning or exam, we recommend coming into the office to book an appointment with one of our talented dental professionals. All new patients may also take advantage of our $99 Cleaning Special that includes an exam and x-rays or our Free Dental Implant Consultation Special.
To set up your appointment give us a call at (718) 507-7781 for the Forest Hills office and (516) 588-6622 for the Garden City Park office. We also welcome walk-ins, to accommodate patients with a busy schedule. We hope to see you soon!