A dental cavity is one of the most common causes of toothache and jaw pain. When a small food particle gets lodged in the cavity, it leads to excruciating pain. The toothache becomes worse if the tooth root is exposed due to the cavity. Oral hygiene, healthy diet, good eating habits play an important role in preventing cavities and tooth decay.
The hard white enamel and dentin are the two outer layers of a tooth. A hole in these two layers is referred to as 'tooth cavity'. In the early stage, a hole develops in the enamel and does not lead to any sensation. But as it reaches the dentin, the person experiences pain when the tooth is used to bite the food. With prompt treatment (filling), you can prevent worsening of the situation. If you don't get the cavity filled up by a dentist immediately, then it can become larger and larger and eventually, can reach the pulp. To avoid this situation, you need to know the causes of cavities in teeth.
Tooth Decay: Tooth decay is the main cause of tooth cavity. Bacteria in food particles left on tooth surface produce certain acids which lead to tooth decay. Streptococcus mutans is the most common bacteria which causes tooth decay. When the caries (cavity) is formed in the enamel, it does not cause any pain. But when it reaches the inner layer, the person starts experiencing pain.
Structural Defects: If the teeth are not properly aligned, cleaning becomes difficult. This leads to bacterial growth and tooth decay, resulting in cavities.
Health Disorders: A harsh blow during sports activities and trauma during an accident can result in the chipping of a tooth. Insufficient fluoride in teeth, scarcity of saliva in mouth (dry mouth) can lead to formation of teeth cavities. Fluoride protects the enamel and helps prevent pits, grooves or fissures. Plaque gets accumulated in these pockets and bacterial growth leads to formation of cavities. Chemicals in saliva cancel the effect of acid released by the bacteria and thus helps to stop tooth decay at an early stage. Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, which involve frequent eating and vomiting, can also be the cause of teeth cavities. Vomiting or even heartburn leads to interaction of the tooth enamel with the stomach acid; which results in gradual destruction of the enamel.
Wrong Diet: Excessive consumption of sugary or acidic foods leads to tooth cavity. Eating hard food like sugarcane, walnuts, etc. can lead to the chipping of a weak tooth. Lack of calcium in diet can result in weak teeth. Cavities are more likely to be formed in weak teeth. You should avoid smoking, frequent snacking if you want to maintain the health of your teeth. Sipping sugary drinks frequently can lead to formation of cavities in teeth.
Early detection of a tooth cavity helps save the tooth with proper treatment. A small cavity at an early stage is likely to go unnoticed as it does not cause any pain. A white spot on the tooth surface indicates loss of minerals from the enamel. The lesion gradually turns into a cavity. Formation of the cavity leads to destruction of the tooth enamel and dentin. Tooth enamel is quite hard but the structure of the dentin is porous.
So once the cavity reaches the dentin, it reaches the pulp very fast. As the cavity becomes deeper, the nerve becomes exposed; and then, lodged food particles give rise to extreme pain. Increased tooth sensitivity, pain after consumption of cold or hot drinks indicates cavity in a tooth. Consumption of sweet food and drinks causes excruciating pain. Bad breath is also one of the common symptoms of tooth decay. Development of puss around the tooth results in bad breath. The person may experience pain while biting and foul taste in the mouth. Lack of treatment can result in spread of the infection to the surrounding tissues, leading to life-threatening situations.
Home Remedies for Cavities
Both children and adults are susceptible to teeth cavities. Root canal treatment can save the tooth in case of deep cavities. In case of smaller cavities, certain home remedies work great for cavity pain.
Warm Water: Using warm water while brushing your teeth can help prevent formation of bacteria. It helps control pain in the cavity. While cleaning, you should clean all the areas thoroughly. You should not avoid the area where you are experiencing pain. Maintaining proper oral hygiene is essential to avoid cavity pain.
Gargling: Gargling with warm salted water helps kill bacteria in the mouth and throat. It helps get rid of bad breath and foul taste in the mouth.
Clove/Camphor Oil: Applying clove or camphor oil with the help of a cotton swab helps relieve cavity pain. If the oil is not available, you can directly use the clove. A clove exhibits antiseptic properties and pressing the clove with the help of the infected tooth helps relieve the pain. You can even add a pinch of pepper powder to a few drops of clove oil and put the mixture on the cavity. It works great for cavity pain.
Lemon with Asafoetida: Chewing a slice of lime with skin, (which contains ample C vitamin), can help lower cavity pain. Make a paste of asafoetida powder and lemon juice. Heat the mixture slightly and place a cotton swab soaked in this mixture in the tooth cavity. You will feel better within few minutes.
Wheat Grass Juice: Consumption of wheat grass juice which carries several medicinal properties helps relieve toothache by restricting the growth of bacteria.
Garlic and Onion: The anti-bacterial, antifungal properties of garlic and onion help relieve toothache. Regular consumption of onion helps prevent cavities. In case of cavity pain, you can place a slice of onion on the painful tooth. Application of garlic paste with rock salt helps relieve cavity pain. Regular use of garlic in diet makes the teeth strong and healthy. The chemical allicin is released when garlic is crushed between the teeth. Allicin carries antibiotic properties. There is no harm in trying these natural home remedies for pain due to cavities.
Ice Therapy: Put some ice cubes in a small zip-lock bag. Wrap it with a hand towel and place it on your jaw, near the painful tooth. Hold cold water or warm salty water in your mouth for sometime, if you can. It will help relieve the pain.
Good Toothpaste: You should always use a good toothpaste which contains fluoride. Some toothpastes come with clove oil as well.
Brushing: You can use any toothbrush for cleaning the teeth but it is necessary to clean the teeth after every snack or meal or drink. Three minutes brushing in the morning and at night can help prevent cavities. Children hesitate to brush before going to bed. It's the duty of parents to watch whether they clean their teeth properly or not. Flossing also helps prevent cavities and tooth decay. Rinsing the mouth after every snack or drink is important.
Healthy Diet: Healthy diet, especially for infants and the elderly, plays an important role in preventing cavity pain. Sugary foods and drinks should be avoided. Sugar triggers the release of acid by the bacteria. A candy which is chewed for 5 minutes leads to less release of acid by the bacteria than a soft drink which is sipped over an hour. Growing children can be given fluoridated water. Intake of fluoride helps strengthen the enamel. Mouthwashes containing fluoride are available in the market.
Over-the-Counter Medication: If the pain is not relieved with the help of the above home remedies, you can take over-the-counter painkillers or over-the-counter anesthetics that are available especially for tooth pain, but after consulting your doctor. Application of oregano oil, olive oil, tea bags also helps get rid of cavity pain.
Remember, during the early stages, a cavity may not be visible but your dentist can locate it with the help of X-ray. Home remedies cannot substitute medical treatment but they can be useful for relieving the pain in the cavities temporarily. Vising a dentist's clinic regularly is essential for preventing cavities. It should be noted that when the extent of tooth decay or cavity is confined to the enamel only or when the decay has not reached the dentin, mineralization (repair) of the enamel is possible with proper treatment.