A cavity, which is a small hole in your tooth that occurs when your tooth enamel is damaged from bacteria, acids and plaque, needs treatment to go away. If you keep ignoring a cavity, it won’t get better on its own. Over time, it will worsen until it can compromise your tooth. What could happen to an untreated cavity?
Here are three things that could happen if you let tooth decay progress without professional attention!
The Decay Would Progress to Cause Symptoms
Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the body, but once it’s been damaged, it doesn’t grow back. If your tooth has sustained enamel damage and a cavity forms, the tooth enamel won’t regrow to protect your tooth.
Instead, the cavity can progress to cause symptoms. Early on in the tooth decay process, people don’t typically experience symptoms. It’s when the cavity has gotten worse over time that that symptoms can happen.
These symptoms can include:
- Sensitive teeth
- A bad taste in your mouth
- Chronic bad breath
- Gum swelling
Many of these symptoms can overlap with other oral health conditions, such as gum disease and a tooth infection . If you’re having any of these symptoms, it’s important to follow up with your dentist as soon as possible!
You Could Need Root Canal Therapy
Once the decay has progressed to the pulp, which is the tissue inside your tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves, your cavity won’t be able to be fixed with a filling. At this point, root canal therapy would be necessary to save your tooth.
Tooth enamel covers dentin, which is a softer layer of your tooth. Once the decay eats through the enamel and the dentin, it can reach the center of the tooth. The pulp of the tooth can then die or become infected, and your tooth may appear discolored from the outside.
Decay that has progressed to this point can also cause an abscess to form, which is a pocket of infection that can cause gum swelling near the tooth’s roots . During root canal therapy, any infected material will need to be cleaned out of your tooth, and you may also need a dental crown to protect your tooth from further damage.
Eventually, the Tooth Will Need to Be Pulled
Although root canal therapy may be able to save your tooth at this point, it’s possible that the tooth is compromised to the point that it will require an extraction. In fact, tooth decay is one of the most common reasons for tooth extraction .
If you need your tooth pulled, it’s important to replace it as soon as you’re able. A missing tooth can cause the neighboring teeth to shift, and can leave you with an unsightly gap in your smile. Your dentist will review your options for replacing your tooth with you during your consultation.
Catching Cavities Early Is Your Best Bet
The best way to minimize treatment of your cavity is to catch it early and get it fixed as soon as possible. Visiting your dentist every six months gives you your best chance to catch tooth decay early and prevent it from compromising your tooth and needing a root canal or an extraction!