What Happens if You Wait to Fill a Cavity?

Young woman holding face in pain cavity Portage MI dentist

What Happens if You Wait to Fill a Cavity?

Young woman holding face in pain cavity Portage MI dentist

Whether you’ve noticed something off about your tooth or our Portage family dentist has told you there’s a cavity, it can be tempting to ignore the issue and move on. However, we strongly advise you to visit our dental office and receive a tooth-colored filling.

Here’s why you shouldn’t put off treating a cavity and should see our dentist as soon as possible.

What Is a Cavity?

A cavity is a hole in the tooth that has been caused by tooth decay. Any individual, no matter their age, can develop cavities if proper oral hygiene habits are not practiced. For many patients, cavities occur due to a combination of foods consumed and inadequate teeth cleaning.

Despite cavities being a very common problem, they are preventable. At-home dental care paired with regular teeth cleanings every 6 months in our Portage office will help you to avoid the formation of a cavity. A cavity doesn’t always cause discomfort or make itself obvious so it’s important to keep up with dental visits.

You may have a cavity if you’re experiencing:

  • Toothache or out-of-the-blue tooth pain
  • Sensitive teeth that react to hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages
  • Pits or holes in your teeth that are clearly visible
  • Pain when biting down
  • Staining on any surface of tooth that is brown, black, or white

For existing cavities, dental fillings remain the best option to seal the hole and prevent further damage.

Why Waiting Does More Damage

It can seem like a good idea at first to play the waiting game with an early cavity but the longer you drag your feet, the more the tooth decay will progress. Once a cavity has developed, there is no way to “cure” it with brushing or flossing. It must be filled.

When the cavity is left untreated, it can move down into an inner layer of your tooth known as dentin. Dentin is located just underneath a tooth’s white outer enamel and contains many nerve endings. If a cavity has reached this layer, you will start to feel sensitivity when eating or drinking.

Delayed treatment can also lead to the decay reaching the nerve of your tooth. At this point, our dentist may recommend root canal therapy and the placement of a dental crown to protect the vulnerable tooth. Tooth extraction could also happen if the decay is severe enough.

What to Expect During Your Appointment

The procedure for fillings is straightforward and relatively quick. Our dentist will start off by numbing the tooth and surrounding area with local anesthesia so you feel no discomfort. After the tooth has been numbed, the decay will be removed with the help of a dental drill.

The hole is then filled with tooth-colored composite resin that closely matches the shade of your natural enamel. The entire process, depending on how many cavities you have, will only take a few minutes. The treated area will remain numb for a few hours after the procedure but will subside. You can easily return to work or school following the appointment.

Tips for Preventing Cavities

Good oral hygiene is key to preventing the formation of cavities. Our dentist encourages you to diligently brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. The use of mouthwash on top of those two actions also helps cut down on plaque.

Scheduling professional dental cleanings with our dentist is necessary as well. During these appointments, your teeth and gums can be checked for issues, like developing cavities. Keeping tabs on your oral health in and out of our office is important not just for your mouth, but the entire body.

Show Your Smile Some Love

If you suspect you have a cavity, our dentist in Portage, MI, urges you to visit our dental office as soon as possible to have it filled. Decay and tooth pain, even if mild, should not be ignored. Request an appointment online or call Courtside Dental today at (269) 327-1011.