Most of us have had a run-in with a cavity or two in our lifetimes. For most, the solution is obvious: have the cavity filled. What many of us don’t realize, however, is what happens when you don’t have a cavity treated. Besides the pain we all know is associated with tooth decay, the ramifications of not treating a cavity can be severe. Let’s take a look at the tooth decay process one step at a time.
Cavities are caused by sugars and bacteria in the mouth. They attack the surface of a tooth to eventually create a small hole in the hard surface. Once breached, the tooth is vulnerable on the inside to further decay. If left unchecked, the hole gets bigger and deeper as the tooth becomes more brittle. As the inside of the tooth decays, the outer shell of the tooth may chip and break.
When a cavity is left to progress, the decay eventually reaches the center of the tooth called the pulp. The pulp contains the blood supply that nourishes the tooth as well as the nerves. When decay exposes these nerves to air, excruciating pain sometimes follows. At this point, a root canal or extraction are the only two options.
Cavities do not go away on their own, but they do progress. Infection of the decaying tooth is a definite possibility, which further contributes to pain. If the infection itself is left untreated, it could spread, causing health problems in other areas of the body. In severe cases, untreated cavities have even caused illness and death.
The good news is, a cavity doesn’t have to cause such turmoil these days. Modern dental practices make treating cavities quick and easy for both dentist and patient. It’s important to mention that treating a small cavity right away is much easier than dealing with one that’s already caused damage to the tooth. Good dental habits and regular visits to a dentist help diagnose cavities as soon as they start so treatment can happen quickly.
If you're looking for professional dental care for you and your family or have any questions, contact Jason C. Croft D.M.D today!