We get this question many times from patients who come in with tooth pain and wonder if they have Cavities. Tooth pain can be caused by several reasons and tooth caries or cavities is one common cause of tooth ache.
Cavities refer to tooth decay, which occurs when specific types of bacteria produce acid that destroys the tooth’s enamel and its underlying layer, the dentin.
Three possible indications that you have a cavity are toothache, tooth sensitivity to sweet, hot or cold foods or drinks, or pain when chewing
Many different types of bacteria live in our mouths and build up on the teeth in a sticky film called dental plaque. When we eat and drink, these bacteria create acids, which can dissolve the protective layer beneath the retained plaque. The acid removes minerals from the enamel, which if left untreated can cause a cavity. Decay begins in the main portion of the tooth (the enamel) and as the enamel is broken down the decay can go deeper into the dentin and can eventually reach the nerve (pulp) of the tooth.
Your dentist can diagnose cavities by examining the tooth surface and by taking an x-ray to see if the cavity has gone from the enamel into the dentin or pulp of the tooth.