What Happens If You Don’t Fix a Cavity?

What Happens If You Don’t Fix a Cavity?

One of the reasons many people avoid the dentist is because they’re afraid they’ll be told they have a cavity. But if you do have a cavity, avoiding the dentist is the last thing you should do. The pain and damage that follows an untreated cavity is far worse than any minor discomfort involved with the treatment to fix it. Read on for more information about what can happen if you don’t fix a cavity. 


How cavities form

Cavities form when acids eat away at the hard outer layer of tooth enamel. Some people are more susceptible to developing cavities because they have thin tooth enamel. And some develop cavities because they regularly drink sodas, which are acidic so they begin to wear down the enamel right away. For candy eaters and juice drinkers, the same is often true. Plaque bacteria uses the sugar in candy and juices to produce the acids that cause cavities. But even those who don’t eat candy, drink soda, or have thin enamel can develop cavities from insufficient oral hygiene. Food particles left behind on your teeth mix with the bacteria in your mouth to form plaque, which produces acids that destroy tooth enamel and lead to cavities. 


The problem with untreated cavities

No one wants cavities, but when left untreated, they can lead to significant pain, damage, and severe complications with your oral health and overall health. Here are some of the problems that arise from untreated cavities:


  • Untreated cavities grow and spread – Cavities grow when left untreated. The decay can spread and compromise the health of other teeth. The cavities can also deepen, affecting the tooth root, and even hitting the nerve.
  • Untreated cavities can cause severe pain – When tooth decay reaches the dental pulp, which contains the blood vessels, living tissues, and nerves, it causes an extremely painful infection (abscess) at the root of the tooth.
  • Untreated cavities lead to tooth breakage – Cavities destroy teeth. When the decay is left untreated, the teeth lose their structural integrity, becoming weak and susceptible to breakage.
  • Untreated cavities lead to tooth loss – Tooth decay left unchecked and untreated can damage a tooth so severely that fixing it is no longer possible. Tooth loss is often the result of poor oral hygiene and untreated cavities.
  • Untreated cavities can lead to jawbone damage – As untreated cavities grow, they don’t stop at the destruction of teeth. Once a tooth has been infected, the infection spreads down into the jawbone, where it can inflame the bone marrow and compromise the structural integrity of the jaw.
  • Untreated cavities can lead to serious health complications  – Any cavity left untreated will eventually lead to infection, and like cavities, infection spreads. A tooth infection can spread to your jawbone, sinuses, eyes, skin, or more distant parts of the body, including your brain or your heart, compromising the health of tissue, bones, and organs. When infection enters your bloodstream, it causes sepsis, a life-threatening medical emergency.

The treatment for cavities is significantly less painful and less complicated than all of the problems that arise when the cavity is left untreated. 

Along with brushing and flossing consistently, your regular visits to the dentist play a major role in the prevention of cavities. For people with normal enamel, cavities typically take form six months to five years to develop. If you do happen to have a cavity, it won’t have time to do significant damage if you visit your dentist every six months. Additionally, when your dentist provides the maintenance services included in routine visits (tartar removal, teeth cleaning, and dental examinations) every six months, it helps ensure that your teeth are healthy and clean.  So as long as you visit your dentist regularly and take care of your properly, you may be able to avoid cavities altogether. 


We’re committed to your health and comfort at Smile Designers in San Diego

We understand that the idea of visiting the dentist makes some people feel anxious. At Smile Designers, we take patient comfort seriously. Our patient satisfaction rate is high because we provide a calm and relaxing atmosphere as well as compassionate, high quality dental care. When you come visit us at Smile Designers, we’ll provide you with the very best in dental services and help keep you comfortable every step of the way. Give us a call at (619) 222-6000 to schedule a dental check-up appointment today