Ask a Dentist

Q: Do cavities hurt?

Dental assistant and dentist fixing a patient's cavities

A: Whether you take perfect care of your teeth or sometimes slack a little, for some of us, cavities are just par for the course. There are many factors that play a role when cavities are developing, having proper oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist is a key factor in it. But what are cavities? And why do they hurt sometimes?

Cavities are little holes or spots of permanent damage that develop on the surface of your tooth enamel, the protective outer layer of your teeth. When that layer is gone a more sensitive layer, the dentin, is exposed to bacteria and temperature changes.  

Because the dentin is exposed, cavities can be painful. This pain is sometimes the first sign that you should head to the dentist. If you’re experiencing ongoing tooth pain or mouth discomfort, you should always see your dentist so they can help determine the problem and develop a treatment plan. 

Other signs of cavities include:

·     Tooth sensitivity

·     Visible holes or pits in teeth

·     Brown, black or white staining on teeth

·     Pain when you bite down 

However, don’t wait until you’re feeling pain or sensitivity to come in for a dental checkup. In many cases, cavities form with no obvious symptoms at all so your best bet is to let a dentist take a look.

Dentists can also determine if an existing filling has been worn down or needs to be replaced.

Between visits, ensure that you’re keeping up with regular brushing and flossing to remove the harmful bacteria that eats away at tooth enamel. As well, be careful how much sugary foods and drinks you’re consuming - sugar is attractive to that tooth-loving bacteria. Drink plenty of water to complement saliva production. Water and saliva helps wash away food residue and keeps you and your mouth healthy.

If you haven’t had a dental appointment in the last 6 months, book an appointment today at either of our Winnipeg locations to make sure your mouth is cavity-free.