What Happens When Cavities Go Untreated?

Cavities, also known as tooth decay, may cause serious pain and dental damage when they are left untreated. When cavities are not addressed, your dental treatment may become more costly, and your pain may also intensify. So, what exactly are cavities and how do you know if you have them? The most common sign of tooth decay is pain. Yet it is important to note that tooth pain is not a definite sign of a cavity—it may signal gum disease or an infection in the mouth, amongst other things. Therefore, if you suspect that you may have a cavity, or if you are just simply experiencing tooth pain, it is always best to schedule an appointment with your dentist before it gets any worse.

Signs That You May Have Cavities

If you suspect that you may have a dental cavity, it is likely because you are experiencing some (or all) of the following signs:

  • Tooth sensitivity

Having teeth that are sensitive to hot and cold food and beverages may mean that you have a cavity. Conversely, having tooth sensitivity is not always a sign that you have a cavity as this can occur for other reasons.  

  • Tooth ache (also known as tooth pain)

Feeling pain upon biting down, speaking, or experiencing an aching sensation in the mouth warrants a trip to the dentist! This is one of the most common signs of tooth decay.

  • Visible hole(s) in the tooth

A cavity is just another way of describing a hole—so if you can visibly see a hole in your tooth, you should definitely schedule a dental appointment to have it looked at.

Complications of Untreated Cavities

Unfortunately, teeth cannot repair themselves—only a dental professional can fix your tooth. Furthermore, when cavities are ignored, they almost always get worse. The only way to treat a cavity and prevent complications is by receiving dental treatment in a timely manner. Cavities that remain untreated may result in some of the following complications:

  • Dental infection

According to The Journal of the American Dental Association, “Without treatment, bacteria can travel through the tooth and develop into an abscess—a severe infection—under the gums.”

  • Tooth loss

When cavities are too extensive, there may be no choice but to remove the tooth altogether. This is a worst-case scenario, but it does happen.

  • Bad breath

Bacteria that remain in the mouth (especially from tooth decay) will cause bad breath. The only way to permanently get rid of the foul odor is to treat whatever is causing it. Mouthwash, breath mints and tooth-brushing will only remove the odor temporarily.

  • Need for more extensive treatment

More involved treatment such as a root canal procedure may be required in order to save the tooth. This usually requires multiple dental appointments.

  • Financial troubles & stress

If involved dental treatment is necessary, it is likely going to cost you more money. Extensive and costly treatment may be prevented if the cavity is treated early when the tooth decay is not as severe.

  • Discoloration

Brown, yellow or even black spots can develop in the teeth that have decay. The discoloration will likely only get worse if the cavity is not addressed and treated by a dentist.

In order to prevent the worsening of dental symptoms and the introduction of new symptoms related to dental cavities, prompt and thorough dental care is required. Advanced DDS provides exceptional dental care in our state-of-the-art dental office where our team exceeds expectations. Schedule your dental appointment and get rid of your dental pain at 516-825-1100.

Infographic describing what happens when you let dental cavities go untreated

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