What Happens If You Don’t Treat a Cavity?

What happens when you leave a cavity unattended?
17 Aug 2020

Even if you are diligent about brushing and flossing, you may not be able to avoid cavities. If you do get a cavity, though, we’re here at Guelph Family Dentistry to give you the treatment you need.

You may suspect you have a cavity if your teeth hurt when you eat something cold or sweet. Or, you may notice some staining on your teeth. If you do have a cavity and leave it for too long, then you can end up damaging your teeth and even your gums quite badly.

Even if you are diligent about brushing and flossing, you can still get a cavity. So, it’s important to have regularly scheduled visits to the dentist. This way, if you do have any issues, we can catch them early. Fillings today are quick and easy, and much more aesthetically pleasing than in the past.

If you leave a cavity for too long, you can seriously damage your teeth and even the surrounding area. These are some of the things that can happen if you don’t treat a cavity:

  • The nerves in your tooth will be damaged
  • The gums around your tooth can also be damaged
  • You can develop a very serious infection

If you’ve left a cavity for too long, you may not be able to get it treated with just a filling. At Guelph Family Dentistry, we will work to fill a cavity if we can and, if not, we’ll talk to you about other treatment options.

Nerve Damage

Every one of your teeth contains nerves and blood vessels. If you have a cavity and leave it untreated, you will start to feel a rising pain. What starts as mild discomfort will increase every day while your cavity remains untreated.

The pain increases gradually because, as the cavity eats away at your tooth, the sensitive nerves inside it are exposed to air. The more the cavity eats away at your tooth, the more air gets in. Eventually, the nerves in your tooth will die.

Previously, if a cavity was left so long that the nerves in a tooth were severely damaged, you would have had to get a dentist to extract the tooth completely. Fortunately, we are now often able to save damaged teeth by doing a root canal.

Damaged Gums

If you don’t treat a cavity in time, the decay in your teeth can also spread to the soft tissue (gums) that support your teeth. This is referred to as periodontal disease. Gums are very important to the health of your teeth, which is why dentists always recommend brushing your teeth and your gums! Flossing also helps keep your gums healthy.

If you have periodontal disease and leave it for too long, you can end up with some serious issues. For example, you may experience:

  • Gum recession. If this happens, your gums will pull away from the bottom of your teeth, thus exposing the roots.
  • Gums that bleed, feel sore, and may even smell.
  • Dental abscesses and infections.

Serious Infection

If a damaged tooth isn’t treated quickly enough, you can end up with dead tissue in your mouth. This can lead to some very serious problems. The dead tissue will cause an infection, starting in the bones in your jaw. The first sign of this will likely be fever, as well as some swelling in your jaw.

If left untreated, the infection can spread further. It can even lead to a life-threatening abscess in your brain. If you have a tooth issue that is accompanied by severe pain, fever, or swelling, it’s important to see us at Guelph Family Dentistry right away. We can give you an antibiotic to fight the infection and also determine how best to treat the tooth and your dead tissue.

How can Guelph Family Dentistry help me if I’ve left a cavity too long?

The best way to treat a cavity is to do so early. The sooner you can catch a cavity, the better. At Guelph Family Dentistry, we’re happy to give you a filling to take care of that cavity.

If it’s too late for a filling alone to work, then we may have to do a root canal. In the past, we would have had to simply remove the entire tooth, but fortunately, that’s no longer necessary.

When you get a root canal (sometimes referred to endodontists), we remove the damaged pulp in your tooth. This is the process for a root canal:

  1. We’ll provide you with a local anesthetic (freezing)
  2. We’ll place a rubber dam around your tooth; this protects it from the bacteria in your saliva
  3. We’ll make an opening in your tooth so we can reach the damaged pulp
  4. We’ll clean and enlarge the root canal system, and remove any damaged pulp
  5. We’ll seal up the canal
  6. We’ll then seal up your tooth with a temporary or permanent filling
  7. The procedure is painless

After your root canal is finished, we’ll talk to you about whether you require any additional treatment, such as further restoration work. We may schedule a follow-up appointment to make sure that your tooth and gums are healing properly.

We Treat Your Teeth Right

Dentistry has come a long way, and we have so many options for treating damaged teeth now. It’s better to catch a cavity early when we can fix it with just a filling, but if it’s been left for too long, we can give you a root canal.

We want to make sure your teeth remain healthy! For more information about getting a root canal or any of our other services, or to book an appointment, call one of our dental professionals at 888-588-1691 or contact us here.

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Dr. Omar Al-Azzawi
Dr. Omar Al-Azzawi

Dr. Omar got his BDS degree in 2002 from the University of Baghdad. He has also completed a master degree in Prosthetic Dentistry from the University of Malaya, Malaysia in 2009. Dr. Omar got his DDS in 2013 in Canada after passing the National Dental Examination Board of Canada (NDEB) exams. Read More

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