Why don't I feel pain on my tooth if it has a cavity or an infection?
Your tooth is actually made up of a number of layers.
The first, outermost, layer is the enamel. This is actually the hardest substance in your body, which makes sense since it exists to protect the interior of your tooth. The next layer down is the dentin. This part of your tooth is more porous and provides the main structure for the tooth. The innermost layer is the pulp. This area houses all the soft tissue of the tooth, such as nerves and blood vessels, and keeps your tooth healthy.
Smaller cavities that don't penetrate the enamel can't be felt because there is no stimulation occurring from the nerve to the enamel. Cavities that penetrate into the dentin may in some cases cause sensitivity, but will rarely cause pain since an infection has not yet occurred. However, many teeth don't experience pain at all, initially – even once the cavity reaches the nerve!
We know you may be wondering, "How can a tooth with an infected nerve not lead to pain?" Well, many times, patients only start to feel excruciating pain once the bacteria in the nerve travel all the way down to the end of the root, forming an abscess. At this point, the tooth is much more difficult to treat and anesthetize due to the abscess.
The main point to take away here is that routine maintenance appointments, along with any necessary x-rays, are the most certain way to avoid emergency type of tooth pain that can come out of nowhere.
If it has been awhile since you have been to the dentist or suspect that something may be going on with a tooth or teeth, make sure to see a dentist sooner rather than later. Small problems can turn into large problems without symptoms. Give us a call today!
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