My teeth don’t hurt, how do I know I have cavities?

My teeth don’t hurt, how do I know I have cavities?

Not all cavities are the same, some hurt some do not. Few common questions we get are:

My teeth don’t hurt how can I have cavity?

My tooth is hurting and I have a cavity, how did that happen?

Why is my tooth hurting and I have cavity all of a sudden?

Why do I need Root Canal therapy, I only need filling?

To answer all of these questions, we need to understand the anatomy of our teeth and the stages of cavities.

What is the structure of our tooth?

The human tooth is comprised of layers. The outer and visible layer is called the tooth enamel. It is the strongest layer of the tooth, infect strongest structure in our body. After the enamel, it comes Dentin which lies just under the enamel. It is the second hardest layer of tooth but made up of porous tissues, it is the main body of the tooth and yellowish in color. Finally, the last inner most layer is the pulp of the tooth. It is where the nerves lie, which are directly connected to the brain.

How does the cavity form?

Cavity is formed when the acids in the mouth break the first layer, Enamel. The acid in the mouth is produced by bacteria after consuming carbohydrates from the food we eat. This acid then attacks the teeth and the risk of cavities arises.

What are the stages of the cavity and how does it reach the final layer?

A cavity starts from the first layer of the tooth in the form of a tiny spot. These spots are difficult to detect by naked eyes. Only a trained dentist or dental hygienist can detect it by a combination of visual exam along with x-rays. If the cavity in its initial stage is not detected and treated in a timely manner, it leads to a bigger problem. The cavity will grow and progressed to the second layer. At this stage, sometimes the patient can spot the cavity by himself but it does not hurt. So many people do not pay attention to it unless it hurts. Just like the initial stage if the cavity is not treated on this stage, it reaches the final layer (pulp/nerve) and it is when the pain game starts.

When does it hurt?

When cavity becomes big enough that it is touching the nerve, the patient starts feeling the pain. The pain can be bearable in the beginning but again if not addressed can turn into a serious infection. The pain is outcome of nerves sending messages to the brain to fix the problem.

How to diagnose a cavity at an early stage?

A dentist and dental hygienist conduct a thorough dental examination and can detect cavities at early stages and fix it right away. Always remember, an early diagnosis will save you from severe pain and will save you from spending extra bucks to have more invasive dental treatment. This is one of the main reasons it is highly recommended to have a dental visit for regular checkup and dental hygiene with a six-month interval.

What is treatment at every stage of a cavity?

First stage

The initial stage of cavities can be treated easily with a simple restoration (filling). In some cases, if it is incipient lesion (or very beginning of the cavity process), we observe the area and home maintenance is suggested. The dentist or dental hygienist advise the patient to give extra attention to that spot by good oral hygiene, proper daily flossing and brushing, limiting sugar, and follow-up checkups. If all goes well in follow-ups, there might be no need for filling or any other treatment.

Second stage

The second stage is when the cavity reaches the Dentin, at this is stage a restoration (filling) can make the tooth cavity-free. At this stage, the dentist can fix the tooth by cleaning the part where the cavity is forming and restoring it with filling material. Our teeth are the only body part that does not heal itself so proper treatment should be done at this stage.

Third stage

The final stage is when the cavity reaches the pulp of the tooth where the nerves are located. This progression of cavity process is usually painful, patients can experience infection around the affected tooth. At this point, the options to restore the tooth are most likely to perform the Root canal therapy (RCT) in attempt to save the tooth followed by a crown or in some cases if it is too late for the treatment tooth extraction might be the last resort.

How to prevent cavities?

We can prevent tooth decay and cavities with a few lifestyle changes such as

  • Brushing the teeth twice a day with good fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss every day.
  • Use a mouth wash (adjunctive therapy).
  • Clean the mouth with water after consuming food high in carbohydrates.
  • Eat a balanced diet and cut down on occurrence consumption of food high in sugar, junk, sodas, and snacks.
  • Visiting the dentist and dental hygienist every six months to make sure everything is fine.
  • Drink lots and lots of water.

Here at Clean Smiles Dental Hygiene Clinic, we recommend our patients to have a dental examination every six months. A complete dental checkup with recommendations for customized dental treatment for optimal dental health is provided by Dr. Haider and highly trained and experienced Dental Hygienists Anila Irfan and Carla Schreiber. Our main goal is prevention and keeping our patient’s teeth healthy for their lifetime.


Dr. Haider offer multiple treatment options of general dentistry to maintain integrity of healthy dentition. Including restorations and immediate root canal treatment to maintain the integrity of tooth structure. Dr. Haider also provides emergency dental services to take the patients out of the pain. Tooth extraction or taking a tooth out is needed in some cases, due to lack of regular dental checkup and late detection of the dental issue or  poor prognosis. We make sure to discuss the treatment options and procedure with the patient beforehand. Book your appointment now at (780) 800-6655



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