What Happens if Cavities are Left Untreated?

If you’re one of the few people out there who has never been unfortunate enough to have suffered with a tooth cavity before, think yourself lucky. 

Looking after the teeth is harder than people would have you believe, and it’s certainly more than a case of simply brushing your teeth once a day and maybe flossing here and there if you can remember to do so. Good dental hygiene is vital for anybody looking to avoid cavities, which is why it’s so important that you regularly see your dentist. 

If you’re concerned about cavities, or are wondering what happens if you have a cavity for too long, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a look at everything there is to know about cavities and good dental hygiene in general. 

What are cavities?

A cavity is basically a hole that develops in a tooth as a result of tooth decay. 

Cavities are the most common dental disease in children and are caused when acids within the mouth and from foods and drinks, start to erode away the enamel of a tooth. The enamel layer on a tooth is it's tough protective outer layer. 

Despite cavities being common in children, people of any age can suffer with a cavity. Those of you affected by a cavity may be wondering what happens if you allow a cavity to go untreated? Well, if left untreated, a cavity can cause severe toothache and pain, abscesses, infections, and even loss of the teeth. 

What do cavities look like?

If you’ve never had a cavity before, or never seen one before, cavities basically look like dark and discoloured holes in the teeth. These holes usually happen when tooth decay is not treated or when a large amount of enamel has been lost

The early stages of cavities can look like white spots to begin with, which is a sign that the teeth, or tooth, is losing minerals to keep it strong and healthy. This is a process which is called demineralization. 

What happens if you have a cavity for too long?

If you’re concerned you may have a cavity, or the start of a cavity, it’s important to act quickly. 

If a cavity is left untreated, it will get bigger which means the hole in your tooth will get bigger, and you run the risk of all manner of health issues. 

As mentioned, in terms of what happens if cavities are left untreated, an untreated cavity can lead to an infection, an abscess could form, your teeth will become extremely sensitive and painful, and you could even run the risk of losing your tooth entirely. 

Do cavities go away by themselves?

In an ideal world, cavities would clear themselves up and go away, just like an ugly spot or pimple might on your face. Sadly, we don’t live in an ideal world and cavities will not go away by themselves. 

If you have a cavity, you will need to visit your dentist as it will only continue to grow and get larger in size, leading to even worse health problems later down the road. 

We’ve already looked at what happens if you have a cavity for too long, and the last thing you want is to experience any of what we’ve looked at already so be sure to act fast, and don’t expect a cavity to go away by itself, because it won’t. 

How to avoid cavities

When it comes to cavities, it’s always best to strike first and to take measures to stop cavities from forming. A few tips to prevent cavities include: 

Brush twice a day 

Brushing your teeth is one of the easiest ways of avoiding cavities. Try to brush your teeth twice per day, preferably after a meal and right before going to bed at night. 

Visit your dentist twice a year at least 

Another simple but very effective tip for avoiding cavities is to visit your dentist at least twice per year. 

Aim to visit the dentist every six months, as that way you can have your teeth examined and checked up on, and if there are warning signs of a cavity beginning to form, you can diagnose the problem and act fast to prevent it from getting worse. 

Avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks 

Cavities are caused by enamel on the tooth being worn away and sugary and acidic foods and drinks are prime culprits for this. 

If you want to avoid a cavity, be sure to avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks on a regular basis. 

How are cavities treated by dentists?

One way that a dentist can treat a cavity is by filling it with a material, such as amalgam or composite resin, which matches the colour of the tooth. If decay continues, a root canal treatment is usually required in order to remove the diseased pulp in the center of the tooth and prevent further damage.

How do I know if I have a cavity?

Finally, if you are concerned you may have a cavity, it’s important to be on the lookout for any potential warning signs. 

Here are some warning signs that you may have a cavity: 

  • Bad breath 
  • Overly sensitive teeth and gums 
  • Toothache 
  • Pain when eating or drinking 
  • Swollen and inflamed gums

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