How long can I wait to treat a cavity?

tmj-pain-reliefIn an ideal world, we either wouldn’t get cavities, or we would have the time off work and the funds to get those pesky dental issues treated right away. Sometimes when you are brushing, flossing, or even just running your tooth over your gums, you may notice a cavity that hasn’t yet started to cause any pain. The thought process begins… Can I just leave it alone since it doesn’t hurt yet? Maybe it won’t get any worse. 

A cavity is a small hole in your tooth caused by decay. The bacteria in the plaque sticking to your teeth produces an acid which begins to eat away at the tooth, causing a cavity. If left alone, the cavity can grow, creating a painful situation due to a larger hole which could lead to permanent damage to the tooth.

About 28% of adults are living with untreated cavities, so leaving them alone is certainly not an uncommon idea. The problem is a cavity isn’t just going to remain a small hole. Cavities, left untreated, will continue to grow. Once the bacteria in your mouth eats through the enamel (first layer) of your tooth, it can enter the middle layer (dentin), and inner layer (the pulp). If that cavity is allowed to get all the way down to the pulp of the tooth, a condition called pulpitis can develop. If discovered right away, a filling can be used, however if left untreated, a root canal may be required, and an extraction could become a possibility.

Make your health a priority and get your cavity treated immediately. The risk outweighs the reward for sure!

About the author

A practicing dentist since 1982, Dr. Gary Imm, provides advanced cosmetic dentistry, including smile makeovers, sedation, implant and TMJ services. He is committed to progressive, extraordinary care for his guests. All Smiles Dental Care trains at least 300 hours each year at such prestigious centers as the Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dentistry. (LVI)

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