If your dentist tells you that you have a cavity, you may wonder how important it is to actually get it filled. You know that you should have them treated, but what if you don’t? Or what if you put off treatment? How bad is it if you ignore them? Some other dental issues can resolve themselves over time, such as mild gum disease with proper oral hygiene. Can’t that happen with cavities too?
The truth is that ignoring a cavity will only ever ensure that it gets worse. Here’s what you need to know about what happens if you don’t get a cavity filled.
What Are Cavities?
Cavities start innocuously. They’re formed after eating or drinking something from bacteria plaque that gets on your teeth. This creates acids which start to eat at the enamel of your teeth. With proper dental care, these can get cleaned away, but in some cases, or with poor oral hygiene, it doesn’t. Once that decay gets through the layers of your teeth, you have a cavity.
Stages Of Cavities
Since cavities start so small, you generally won’t even notice that you have one. At their start, they don’t hurt nor are they visible, so most people don’t even know they have a cavity until their dentist points it out. This is part of why regular dental cleanings are so important, to catch cavities before they have the chance to progress in severity.
As the cavity gets larger and through the enamel of your teeth, though, that’s when you’ll start to notice signs and symptoms. The layer of your tooth under the enamel is called the dentin, and it’s full of tiny nerve endings. This means that once the tooth decay reaches this layer, that’s when you’ll start feeling aches and pains and sensitivity.
The dentin is softer than your enamel in addition to being much more sensitive. Not only does the tooth decay hurt once it gets this deep, but it also spreads much faster, due to the softness of the dentin. As such, once your cavity reaches this stage, it very quickly progresses in severity.
At this stage, you’ll definitely be feeling pain, in addition to some other symptoms. You may also experience pain from biting down, pain from temperature, spontaneous pain, sensitivity, and holes, pits, or brown, black, or white stains on your teeth.
Left untreated, the decay won’t stop. It can go all the way to the pulp of your teeth. This is one of the deepest types of cavities and can lead to an abscess. If you have an abscessed tooth, this issue isn’t confined to your tooth anymore, but can spread to swelling in the jaw and bleeding in the gums.
The Consequences Of Untreated Cavities
As you can see, cavities will only continue to worsen with time. Left untreated, a cavity can result in an abscessed tooth. If allowed to get this far, a cavity will result in loss of tooth structure and become more easily breakable. Abscessed teeth typically need root canals in order to save them.
In the event that the cavity has done too much damage and your tooth cannot be saved by a root canal, then your tooth will need to be extracted. If you lose your tooth to a cavity, they don’t grow back, not permanent teeth, anyway. You’ll need implants or some other solution in order to replace the tooth.
As you can see, it’s crucial to get treatment when your dentist tells you you have a cavity. The treatment you receive will vary based on the stage of decay the cavity is in. Treatments can range from fillings to fill the spot that was decayed, to crowns which restore lost structure, to root canals, to try to save the tooth.
Prevention is the best treatment when it comes to cavities. Maintaining good oral health will go a long way to keep a cavity at bay. This means brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and going to your regular dentist exams. If your dentist notices a cavity, it’s best to have it treated as soon as possible.
Are You Worried About A Cavity?
Northview Dental knows the importance of cavity prevention and treating a cavity as soon as you notice it. Our professionals can advise you on proper oral hygiene if you have any questions. We want to help you avoid having a cavity. If you would like to schedule an appointment or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at Northview Dental today!