Can I Have A Cavity But Not Experience Pain?

Can I Have A Cavity But Not Experience Pain?

Cavities are one of the most common dental problems in individuals, typically accompanied by a sharp pain brought on by eating something sweet or cold. Cavities are a hole in the tooth, caused by weakening of the enamel. This softening of the enamel is known as tooth decay; a problem caused by sugar sitting on the tooth and eating away at the protective enamel of your teeth.

Luckily, cavities are a simple fix when caught promptly. But how do you know if you have a cavity? You can’t see them and they don’t always hurt. Cavities usually only cause tooth sensitivity and toothache when the cavity has grown large, deep and begins to affect nerves or create a tooth fracture from the softening. If the cavity has spread and has begun to attack the pulp, or inside of the tooth, it can also cause immense pain. Generally speaking though, pain is an indicator that your cavity will require more extensive treatment than just a filling due to the fact that minor cavities won’t cause you discomfort.

How do I know if I have a cavity?

Don’t rely on pain alone to alert you that something is wrong. It’s important to stay up-to-date on your dental exams; for most people that is twice a year, for others with a history of dental problems it may be every three to four months or sooner, as to be determined by your dental provider. Other signs you may have a cavity besides pain include:

  • Visible holes or pits on teeth
  • Brown, black, or white staining/discoloration
  • Receding gums
  • Improper or infrequent brushing habits


Risk factors of cavities

Some individuals are more prone to cavities than others due to lifestyle choices, genetics or other dental issues they have experienced in the past. Additionally, different teeth are more likely to get cavities than centrally located teeth.

  • Tooth location, such as molars. Molars, especially wisdom teeth, are harder to reach when brushing and have more grooves that bacteria can get trapped in.
  • Frequent snacking or sipping; this continually bathes your teeth in acidic or sugar substance, weakening the enamel.
  • Dry mouth. Lack of saliva makes you more susceptible to cavities as you don’t have the ability to wash food and bacteria away from the surface of the teeth frequently.
  • Sticky, sugary foods
  • Too little fluoride
  • Eating disorders


Cavity Treatment

  • Silver Diamine Fluoride and other Fluoride treatments can be used if a cavity is small enough to reverse by hardening the enamel. This will only be beneficial for cavities that are detected very early on.
  • Fillings are the most common method of treatment for cavities. Made of different materials that fit snugly in the cavity, they stop the weakening of the enamel and any pain that may be associated with the cavity.
  • Crowns are a cap that fits over the top of your tooth should the natural crown of your tooth be severely decayed.



If your dentist can catch problems before they get worse you will save time and money on more lengthy and expensive procedures to rectify simple problems. If cavities are not caught in time, they can lead to more serious problems such as:

  • Pain that interferes with everyday life
  • Swelling or pus around the affected tooth
  • Broken teeth
  • Chewing problems
  • Loss of tooth
  • Shifting of teeth after tooth loss
  • Jaw and chewing problems
  • In rare cases, tooth abscess due to untreated infection


Seeing your dentist should be a regular part of your oral care. In keeping up on checkups and cleanings, your dentist will be able to tell if you have a cavity or are at risk of one. Doing this ensures your teeth are in tip-top shape and ready to last you a lifetime.

At Madden Dental, we strive to provide our patients with the best possible care. By providing patient education, we include individuals in their care plan so they feel comfortable and at ease within our practice. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Madden, contact us today!