Discover the risks of neglecting cavities. Learn how long you can safely leave a cavity untreated before it leads to serious dental issues.
Dental Cavity is the most common dental problem. A cavity is a small hole in the tooth that can be developed due to tooth decay. It is commonly found in kids, teenagers and adults. Usually, if the little holes in your teeth, called cavities, are found early, they can be fixed easily by the dentist using simple fillings or caps. However, if the cavity is not treated early, cavity can turn into full-blown cavity. A full-blown cavity is when a small hole in a tooth has become bigger and deeper. It means the tooth is more seriously damaged and might need more extensive treatment from a dentist. Due to the reason, many dentists prefer that patients should treat their cavities as soon as possible vs. leaving them untreated.
Some people may have tooth cavities and they might wonder “how long they can leave a cavity untreated?“. They want to know, how long untreated cavity can be harmful for them, so for they can treat their cavities as early as possible. So, here you will learn everything about cavity causes, symptoms, and their overall timelines.
What is Cavity?
A tooth cavity is a small hole or space that forms in a tooth. It happens when tiny germs called bacteria in our mouths make acids that can harm our teeth. These acids can eat away at the hard, outer layer of our teeth, which is called enamel. When the enamel gets damaged, it creates a hole, and that’s what we call a cavity. If we don’t take care of our teeth by brushing them regularly and eating healthy foods, these cavities can get bigger and cause pain. That’s why it’s important to visit the dentist regularly, so they can help fix any cavities and keep our teeth healthy.
Causes of Cavity
Tooth cavities, also known as dental cavities or dental caries, occur when certain factors lead to damage in our teeth. One of the main culprits is sugary foods and drinks like candies, cookies, and sweet beverages. These items provide a feast for bacteria in our mouths, which produce acids that can harm our teeth. Another significant factor is inadequate brushing. When we don’t brush our teeth regularly, the bacteria in our mouths multiply and generate more harmful acids. Brushing helps remove these bacteria and the acids they produce. Additionally, not flossing can contribute to cavities. Flossing is crucial for cleaning the areas between our teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. If we neglect this, food particles can become trapped there, allowing bacteria to thrive and potentially cause cavities.
Insufficient fluoride intake is also a noteworthy contributor. Fluoride is a special substance that helps protect our teeth, and it can be found in toothpaste, certain mouthwashes, and even in some water. If we don’t get enough fluoride, our teeth may be more vulnerable to developing cavities. Lastly, regular dental check-ups play a vital role in cavity prevention. Dentists can provide thorough cleanings and catch any cavities in their early stages before they worsen. Taking these precautions can help prevent the occurrence of cavities and maintain good oral health.
How Do You Know If You Have a Cavity?
If you are wondering if you have a cavity, there are a few things to watch out for. One sign is tooth pain, especially when you eat something sweet, hot, or cold. Another clue is sensitivity in your teeth, which means they might feel uncomfortable when you have hot or cold food and drinks. Keep an eye out for any visible spots or holes on your teeth, especially if they look black or brown. Sometimes, cavities can lead to bad breath because of the bacteria involved. Also, if you feel an ache or pain when you are chewing food, that could be a hint of a cavity. If you notice any of these signs, it is a good idea to visit the dentist. They can take a closer look and help fix the cavity before it gets worse. Taking care of our teeth is really important to keep them healthy!
Impacts of Untreated Cavity:
If a cavity is not treated, it can lead to a few problems. Firstly, it can get bigger and cause more pain. This means you might feel discomfort even when you are not eating. As the cavity grows, it can reach the inside of your tooth where there are sensitive nerves. This can lead to a serious infection, which can be very painful and might require special treatment. Additionally, if you leave large untreated cavity, this can make it difficult to chew food comfortably, which can cause eating problems. In severe cases, if you leave a cavity untreated too long, the cavity causes too much damage, you might even lose the tooth.
How Long Can You Leave A Cavity Untreated?
The following information can help you detecting that what is your current cavity stage and how long you can leave a cavity untreated.
Early Stages of a Cavity:
When a cavity is just starting, it makes a small hole in the hard outer part of your tooth called enamel. How fast this happens can depend on different things. If you brush and floss your teeth regularly, it might take a few months for the cavity to go deeper into your tooth. At this point, you might feel some signs like your tooth being sensitive to hot and cold, or it might hurt a bit. You could even see a small hole in the tooth. If you visit your dentist every six months, they’ll likely find the cavity early. They’ll clean out the bad stuff, get rid of the germs, and fill the hole.
Late Stages of a Cavity:
If a cavity isn’t fixed for a year or more, that small hole can become a big problem. Once the germs get through the tough enamel, they can go into the softer parts of the tooth, like the middle and the root. This is where the blood vessels and nerves that keep your tooth alive are. As the cavity gets worse, the germs can hurt the tooth a lot and might even kill it. If a cavity is not fixed for a year, the tooth might die. It could hurt a lot, feel sore, and might even feel wobbly. You might also see the tooth changing color, like brown or dark yellow. The gums around it might get red and swollen.
Long-Time Untreated Tooth Decay:
If a cavity is not fixed for two years or more, it can hurt the tooth. You will see the color change around the tooth, and the gums might get very swollen. It could be super painful and sensitive. By this point, the germs have probably hurt the middle and root of the tooth. You might lose the tooth, or the dentist might do something called a root canal to try to save it.
Just like any other sickness, the germs can move to other parts of your body if you don’t treat them. After two years of not fixing tooth decay, the sickness might spread to other teeth and the gums. You might notice your cheek, jaw, or chin getting swollen. At this stage, the cavity that wasn’t treated has hurt the tooth, the nearby teeth, gums, and other parts around there. The longer a cavity is not fixed, the more damage it can do. If a cavity is not fixed for a year or more, it could even make you lose a tooth. Cavities that aren’t fixed for a long time can be bad for your health.
How Are Cavities Treated by Dentist?
When a dentist treats a cavity, they do a few things:
- Numb the Area: They start by numbing the area around the tooth so you won’t feel any pain.
- Remove the Bad Part: Then, they use special tools to take out the part of the tooth that’s been hurt by the cavity.
- Clean the Area: After that, they clean the space to get rid of any germs or bacteria.
- Fill the Hole: Next, they fill the hole with a special material. It helps keep the tooth strong.
- Make it Smooth: They make sure the filling is smooth, so it feels normal in your mouth.
And that’s it! Afterward, your tooth should be all fixed up and ready to go. It is important to brush and floss regularly to keep your teeth healthy!
What Can Happen If I Leave A Cavity Untreated?
If you leave a cavity untreated, it can lead to various problems. At first, the cavity might not bother you much, maybe just a bit of sensitivity or a small hole in your tooth. But if you leave it be, the cavity can grow and go deeper into your tooth, which can make it hurt more. It might even get to the inside where the nerves and blood vessels are, causing a big pain and infection. Without help, the cavity keeps eating at your tooth and can even make you lose it.
Sometimes, it can create a pocket of pus called an abscess, which is not pleasant at all. If the cavity isn’t taken care of, it can spread the problem to other teeth, gums, and even your jaw. Plus, it might end up costing more to fix later. Taking care of cavities early is important for keeping your teeth and your overall health in good shape!
How to prevent Cavity?
Taking care of your teeth is super important to stop cavities from happening. Start by brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least two times a day, especially after eating. Don’t forget to use dental floss to clean between your teeth because sometimes your toothbrush can miss bits. Try to eat less sugary snacks and drinks, and go for fruits, veggies, and tooth-friendly foods instead. It is a good idea to stay away from sugary drinks like soda and juice since they can make cavities more likely. Drinking water is really good for your teeth because it washes away leftover food and helps balance the acid in your mouth.
Chewing gum that doesn’t have sugar can also help prevent cavities. Remember to visit your dentist regularly, usually every six months. They can spot any cavities early and help keep your teeth clean. Using toothpaste with fluoride can make your teeth stronger and better at fighting cavities. Sometimes, dentists can put a special shield on your back teeth called dental sealants to keep out germs and food. And it’s a good idea to stay away from smoking or chewing tobacco because they can really harm your teeth and gums. So, by taking care of your teeth every day, you can stop cavities and have a bright, healthy smile!