It’s easy to ignore small problems sometimes. Your car starts making a funny noise, but it still starts day after day, so it can wait. The fridge is looking a little bare, so you’ll just order out tonight and go to the store tomorrow. Many people take this same approach with their teeth. A small toothache or cavity doesn’t stop them from functioning normally, so they just go about their day and don’t address it. What can happen over the long-term? Your dentist in Mt. Holly at Mt. Holly Family Dentistry wants you to know a little more about what can happen if you leave cavities untreated.
Cavities are caused by the plaque on your teeth breaking down the enamel. Plaque is constantly doing this, but hopefully you brush and floss it off each day. If it is left on your teeth for too long, it can finally eat through the enamel. Cavities take a long time develop, as in several months. This is why your dentist is comfortable only seeing you twice a year. However, if you leave a cavity alone for a very long time, a few things can happen.
Firstly, your tooth will simply keep decaying. Once the enamel has been eaten away, it can’t restore itself. The best you can hope for is to maintain the remaining enamel. After the cavity has gotten through it, it will reach the dentin, which is a yellow substance that protects your tooth’s nerve. Eventually the cavity will reach the dental pulp, and this is where the nerve of your tooth is located. At this point, things can get very serious.
Once the dental pulp has started decaying, it can cause you extreme dental pain, and even lead to an infection that can spread to your gums and jaw. This can cause swelling that makes it extremely hard to eat and speak, and eventually the tooth will just fall out, but you will still have the infection. If it gets bad enough, you might even need oral surgery to correct it.
Of course, there are simple things you can do to prevent a cavity from getting to this point.
What You Can Do
Your first line of defense against cavities is brushing and flossing consistently. They are the most important steps you can take to protect yourself from plaque and tooth decay. You also need to routinely visit your dentist at Mt. Holly Family Dentistry. Cavities can be difficult to spot in their initial stages, but the doctors will be able to notice the smallest sign. This will enable them to treat you quickly and more conservatively.
One treatment they might use is a dental filling, which uses a composite resin to restore your tooth’s lost structure. If the cavity is quite advanced, root canal therapy can fix it. Long thought of as an extremely painful procedure, root canal therapy is now very routine and completely painless thanks to modern sedation techniques. It is actually one of the best ways to relieve the most extreme dental pain, not cause it.
The key takeaway from this is that you should keep a consistent oral hygiene routine, and be sure to regularly see your dentist, especially if you think you have a cavity. A cavity can be a minor problem if treated early, or a major one if left alone.
If you have any other questions about how you can prevent cavities and take care of your teeth, please give us a call today.