Cavity or Sensitive Teeth? How to Know the Difference

Although both cavities and sensitivity can cause tooth pain, they are different. Use this chart to learn about the differences—and remember to see your dentist for an official diagnosis.


The Difference Between Cavity Tooth Pain and Tooth Sensitivity


Hole in the Tooth Caused by Tooth Decay

A painful hole in the tooth caused by tooth decay.

Stimuli Reach Tooth Nerves Causing Tooth Sensitivity

Pain caused when stimuli reach the nerves in teeth.


Dull Ache Triggered by Biting Down

A dull ache, sometimes triggered by eating or biting down.

Short, Sharp Twinge in Teeth

A short, sharp twinge often caused by hot or cold foods.


Plaque on Teeth

Sugars and starches create plaque on teeth. The bacteria in plaque break down enamel, leading to decay.

Anatomy of a Tooth Showing Dentin Layer and Tooth Nerves

Acids wear away tooth enamel, exposing the underlying dentin and leaving the nerves vulnerable to outside stimuli.


Dentist Appointment Checking Teeth Conditions

If you get a cavity, schedule an appointment with your dentist to have it filled.

Sensodyne Repair and Protect Toothpaste

Sensitivity can be treated with proper at-home care. Try a desensitizing toothpaste like Sensodyne® to get relief.*

*With twice daily brushing

Take the Sensodyne® Online Check Up

Do hot, cold, and sugary foods sometimes cause sudden,sharp pains? You may have tooth sensitivity. Take the Sensodyne® Online Check Up to find out about sensitive teeth and the products that can help you. 

Take the Sensodyne® Online Check Up

Claim Your Sensodyne® Coupon

Download and redeem your Sensodyne® coupon at your local retailer and save on any one (1) Sensodyne® toothpaste.

Get a Coupon