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What Happens if You Don't Treat a Cavity?

A dentist holds open a child's mouth so you can see a bad cavity.Cavity might as well be a four letter word.

Cavities have been a bad word for as long as they have had a name. It is no secret that the very thought of one may make your teeth clench in opposition to treatment.

The majority of people are familiar with cavities and know the treatment process, including regular cleaning exams. But most people don't know the process of what happens to a tooth if it's left untreated.

We hope that by telling you what happens with a bad cavity will lead you to making proper oral hygiene a part of your daily routine. Here's a brief summary of what to expect if a cavity goes untreated.

A Bad Cavity Can Bring Further Decay

Cavities don’t just go away on their own. If you ignore a cavity, it will continue to grow in size. One bad cavity could lead to a second cavity before long. Decay of the tooth will widen and deepen; this will make you more prone to brittle teeth leaving them to the possibility of cracking and breaking.

How Serious Cavities Impact Your Nerves

Taking it a step further, if cavities go untreated the decay will eventually reach your nerves. This can be severely painful because nerves become exposed to the air as a cavity progresses. Nerve pain can be an ongoing and excruciating ordeal as the sensitivity within the tooth continues to be compromised. By this time, the tooth will either need a root canal or to be extracted.

Infection from a Bad Cavity

Infection in the mouth and jaw area is of greatest concern even above the pain you may experience. Infection can lead to increased pain, swelling, and other health concerns. You’ll need an antibiotic to help fight the infection along with treatment of the tooth to take care of the cavity in whatever way the dentist feels is best.

Illness and Death

Finally, it may be hard to imagine, but a cavity can actually lead to an infection that is so bad that it can cause serious illness or even death. Thankfully, modern technology makes it so this is rarely ever the case. There’s certainly no need to let things go that long.

As you can see, letting a cavity progress certainly has a snowball effect. Treatment is very easy when cavities begin but can be much more involved if you ignore them. If you suspect that you have a cavity, you should seek immediate treatment from your dentist. 

Schedule A Consultation To Treat Your Cavity Today!

At Southfield Family Dental Center, we know that your smile is important to you. That’s why we have a staff of experienced dental professionals ready to meet all your dental needs. Schedule an appointment today, and let us help you get your smile looking great again!

The article was originally posted on October 20, 2016. We revised it once  on March 11, 2019, then again on July 28, 2020. The author of this page is Dr. Noah Levi

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