Dental Cavities. Should You Wait Till They Hurt?

Dental Cavities. Should you wait till they hurt?

Dental Cavities

No. Don’t wait till your dental cavities hurt you.

Several times in the dental office I’ve been around our doctors, when they are explaining to their patient that they see dental cavities. Sometimes the patient takes heed and goes about getting the decay in their teeth (dental cavities) repaired. Now, this should be the more regular response to being told that your teeth are slowly being eaten up by bacteria. That sounds a bit scary maybe, but, that is what is happening. I mentioned that only sometimes the patient in the chair being told of their dental problem goes about getting it resolved. The rest of the times that I see, the patient has a sort of mindset of, “Well, it doesn’t hurt now, so why should I fix it now?” Of course, that is a fairly legitimate question. One that should require some clarification, which I will take a stab at here.

What happens with dental cavities in your teeth?

First off, the first layer of your teeth are made of the strongest substance in your entire body, enamel. Enamel is so hard for several reasons. Your teeth need protection, first of all. Underneath that strong layer of enamel, there is a much softer layer called dentin. The dentin surrounds the part of your tooth that gives it life, the dental pulp, which contains nerves and channels for vital fluid carrying minerals to your teeth. The nerves of your teeth are what will start the pain if, and when, they get infected or they undergo trauma somehow. The enamel in your teeth is what is guarding all of what is underneath it, like a shield.

Dental cavities are essentially decayed parts of your teeth, due to bacteria eating through these layers of enamel and dentin. What I am going to say next is important: just because you don’t have any pain in a tooth that your dentist has stated there is a cavity in, doesn’t mean it isn’t there, or isn’t “bad,” or doesn’t need to be filled right away. Of course, there are cavities that are less deep than others, this is true. However, if the decay in your tooth moves beyond the first layer of your tooth (and remember, this is the hardest substance in the human body), and ends up in the dentin of your tooth, it moves a lot faster. Once it get’s to the dentin, there is no more control of the decay. While the dental cavities are still in the enamel, they can be curbed with very good dental hygiene, regular check ups and cleanings, and the use of fluoride, but, when it’s past the enamel, you just can’t control the decay anymore.

The pain that you experience when decay is present in your tooth occurs when that area of decay approaches the nerve of the tooth. As it get’s closer and closer, the nerve of the teeth may become inflamed, which will create a lot of pressure in your tooth. This is part of what can cause the pain. If the decay get’s to the nerve, your nerve starts to, well, die. This will also be painful, and when you have an infected root, the treatment is usually root canal therapy. In fact, when you start experiencing pain in your teeth due to dental cavities, it could be too late and root canal therapy will probably have to be done.


If you do end up experiencing pain in your teeth, please, get to the dentist right away so that he/she can properly diagnose the problem. When it comes to decay in your teeth, it is my firm opinion that you should not wait to get your dental treatment done. If you wait too long, the treatment will just become more and more expensive and time consuming, and you may end up in a lot of pain. It has also been my experience that tooth pain is something that is NOT good. So, please, I implore you, if you do have attention on some pain in your teeth, or the dentist has already informed you that decay was present in your teeth, make an appointment to get it remedied.

Check out this AGD article on toothaches.

Stay healthy my friends.



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