Tooth decay pain can happen at any time. Anyone who has experienced tooth decay pain understands how uncomfortable and stressful it can be. Fortunately, modern dentistry allows dentists to quickly treat and repair your tooth to get your oral health in optimal condition.
Tooth decay is common but preventable since most cases are caused by a combination of poor dental hygiene and frequent consumption of sugar and carbohydrates. However, other causes increase your risk for tooth decay, or dental caries, that include:
The process of tooth decay begins when plaque bacteria use food debris left behind on your teeth to create an acid. The acid weakens tooth enamel and leads to a small hole in your tooth called a cavity. The longer tooth decay is left untreated, the easier it can spread to the inner layers of the tooth, which eventually leads to sensitivity and pain.
Tooth decay in the outer layer of your teeth, the enamel, may not cause any pain, but as the decay travels to the dentin layer or the pulp, it can lead to severe tooth pain.
The American Dental Association (ADA) reports that there are small, microscopic channels leading from the dentin later into the pulp layer. The inner layers of the tooth contain nerves of the teeth that provide sensation. It is important always to maintain routine dental checkups to evaluate for tooth decay early so you can get it treated promptly.
Poor oral hygiene that leads to gum disease can be very painful and may feel like cavity pain. Gum disease, or periodontitis, can present with symptoms of red and inflamed gum lines, mobile teeth, and even a periodontal abscess.
Cavity pain is dependent upon the stage of tooth decay. Tooth decay in the enamel is likely asymptomatic and does not cause any sensitive teeth. Some people are unaware they even have tooth decay when it is so superficial.
When tooth decay spreads to the dentin layer and pulp of the tooth, it can cause symptoms like:
You can temporarily manage your tooth decay at home if you cannot get an immediate dental appointment. Remember that even if your symptoms subside, you should always follow up with your dentist for professional treatment.
You should attempt to get your cavities treated quickly when they are detected by your dentist. Even with the best oral care, most cavities cannot repair themselves without the assistance of a filling. This is to avoid long-term dental problems that can be more painful and financially costly.
Smaller fillings may take a few months to progress and cause a problem, but untreated tooth decay left for several months can spread to adjacent teeth and lead to extensive dental treatment. Leaving a cavity untreated can lead to a dental infection and even tooth loss.
If you have tooth decay that is causing pain, your dentist will perform a thorough clinical examination and take a dental radiograph to determine the extent of the decay. Treatment can vary based on the extent of tooth decay.
Dental treatment costs vary and can become expensive without dental insurance. Remember that smaller treatments like dental fillings are less costly than more extensive dental work like root canal therapy, dental crowns, and extractions.
A dental filling can cost anywhere from $75 to $350, depending on the amount of surface filling and filling you need. There are also additional costs to the filling like dental exams, x-rays, laughing gas if needed.
Cavities and tooth decay are common, so not everyone takes them seriously. However, cavities and tooth decay can have severe and lasting complications, even for children who do not have permanent teeth yet.
Complications of cavities may include:
When cavities and tooth decay become severe, you may experience:
Fortunately, most of the time, tooth decay can be managed at home until your dental visit. However, if you are experiencing severe pain that cannot be relieved, this may be considered a dental emergency.
Severe pain can sometimes indicate you have a dental infection that needs to be addressed immediately. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should contact your dentist to seek medical advice:
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