Dental Cavities | Dentist in Salem, MA
Tooth decay is a common disorder, second only to the common cold. It most often occurs in children and young adults, but it can affect anyone. Tooth decay is a common cause of tooth loss in younger people.
Bacteria are normally found in your mouth. These bacteria change foods, especially sugar and starch, into acids. Bacteria, acid, food pieces, and saliva combine in the mouth to form a sticky substance called plaque. Plaque sticks to the teeth. It is most common on the back molars, just above the gum line on all teeth, and at the edges of fillings.
Plaque that is not removed from the teeth turns into a substance called tartar, or calculus. Plaque and tartar irritate the gums, resulting in gingivitis and periodontitis.
Plaque begins to build up on teeth within 20 minutes after eating. If it is not removed, it will harden and turn into tartar (calculus).
The acids in plaque damage the enamel covering your teeth. It also creates holes in the tooth called cavities. Cavities usually do not hurt, unless they grow very large and affect nerves or cause a tooth fracture. An untreated cavity can lead to an infection in the tooth called a tooth abscess. Untreated tooth decay also destroys the inside of the tooth (pulp). This requires more extensive treatment, or possibly removal of the tooth.
Carbohydrates (sugars and starches) increase the risk of tooth decay. Sticky foods are more harmful than non-sticky foods because they remain on the teeth. Frequent snacking increases the time that acids are in contact with the surface of the tooth.
What Happens If You Do Not Get a Cavity Filled?
Cavities don’t ever heal on their own. If you decide to leave your cavity untreated, you are in for some unpleasant experiences.
Your cavity will just grow larger. The longer you wait to fill a cavity, the larger it will continue to grow. Not only will this cause tooth pain, but your tooth can become brittle. If a cavity grows big enough, it will hollow out your tooth and cause it to crack or even cause tooth loss.
You’ll need a root canal. Untreated cavities will eventually reach the pulp of your tooth and its nerves will become exposed. When this occurs, you will be in for some severe pain. Once decay reaches the root of a tooth, it will need to be treated with root canal therapy or even a tooth extraction depending on how large the cavity has become.
Your risk of infection will increase. Your mouth is full of bacteria, and once a cavity reaches the pulp of your tooth, a tooth infection or abscess can form rather quickly. Oral infections won’t just make you feel miserable, but can also make you extremely ill. If you notice any tooth abscess signs and symptoms, it’s important to contact an emergency dentist right away.
You overall health may suffer. If a cavity is left untreated for a long while and you develop a tooth infection or abscess from severe decay, you could be in for a serious illness. If a tooth infection is left untreated, bacteria can get into your bloodstream and spread to other parts of your body. Not only will this make you feel very sick, but you may develop a life-threatening infection called sepsis. This is why it’s critical to get your tooth treated promptly especially if it’s causing you extreme pain.
Untreated Cavity Symptoms
At times, you may not know you have a cavity — especially if it isn’t causing you pain. But once a cavity progresses, you will start to notice some of the following signs and symptoms:
A toothache or spontaneous pain in a tooth
Pain in a tooth when you bite down or chew your food
Tooth pain when consuming hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks
Visible dark spots, holes, or pits in a tooth
Staining on the surface of your tooth that can be brown, black, or white
How Do You Prevent Cavities?
Cavities can certainly be prevented. Follow these tips from the American Dental Association to keep your teeth cavity-free:
Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
Floss between your teeth daily
Eat nutritious, balanced meals and limit snacking
Talk to your dentist about supplemental fluoride to strengthen your teeth and about dental sealants to further protect your teeth from decay
Visit your dentist at least twice a year for professional teeth cleanings and exams
Remember: The above information points are to be used as general guidelines and you SHOULD NOT use this information to determine anything yourself.
At Aleris Salem 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. If you think you may have a cavity, call our Dental Clinic in Salem, MA at 855-745-0055 or schedule an appointment today, and let us help you get your smile looking great again!