Did you know that according to studies, 92% of adults in the US develop cavities? However, around 26% let it go untreated.
One of the worst dental pains comes through the hands of a cavity. Sensitivity to hot and cold foods, along with pangs of stabbing pain, isn’t all that uncommon. But sometimes, at least in the initial phase, a cavity can go unnoticed. You might not even register that your tooth is decaying until spotting that dark blemish on its surface. This sudden realization can uncover many queries, the most pressing though: how long can you leave a cavity untreated?
(Hint: 0h 0m 0s)
What is a Cavity?
A cavity is a decaying process that begins with the enamel of the tooth getting compromised. When the harmful bacteria in your mouth start to attack your tooth, that’s when you know you’re in trouble.
The insides of the tooth — the dentin and the pulp — guard the nerve endings. These nerves control the pain and sensitivity you feel. Thus, when the infection spreads over to these nerve endings, it can leave behind a dark-colored hole.
Eating food that is high in acidity, sugar, and starch can be the leading reason behind cavity formation. It causes the enamel of your tooth to demineralize at a faster pace.
How Long Can You Leave A Cavity Untreated?
This is a question you definitely shouldn’t be asking. Once you detect a stain that might look like a cavity, you should get it filled immediately. This will prevent the bacteria inside from spreading further. Otherwise, you could lose the entire tooth if the cavity reaches the nerve ending.
Not to mention, when your cavity starts to hurt, it’s a dead giveaway that the bacteria is slowly finding its way through. Leaving a bacterial infection to fester only leads to serious dental complications.
There are some cases where people don’t realize they have a cavity until the pain surfaces. In such an instance, it’s important to observe regular visits to the dentist. That, too, at least two times a year. So, it doesn’t matter how long you leave a cavity untreated because, by the end of it, you could potentially lose a tooth.
What Happens If You Leave A Cavity Untreated?
One important thing to remember is that if you leave a cavity as is, it will not go away on its own. Instead, it will only grow at a faster pace. Curious? Here’s what would happen if you were to leave your tooth to decay without any treatment to counteract it:
- The enamel of your tooth will get weaker. You might notice a hint of transparency or tiny white spots on your tooth.
- Although there won’t be any pain during the initial phase, your tooth will still show signs of discoloration.
- If the enamel weakens enough, the bacteria will sneak over to the middle part of the tooth; the dentin.
- From the dentin, the bacteria will move to the pulp, under which the critical nerve endings are.
- When the infection reaches the bundle of nerves, you will experience severe pain and a heightened sensitivity to whatever you eat or drink. Your body might produce a pus-filled sac to fight off the bacteria.
- The bacterial infection, paired with the dental abscess, could cause the tooth roots to give way, causing the entire tooth to fall right off.
Here’s The Bottomline
All in all, the only way to treat a dental cavity is by a root canal, dental filling, or in extreme cases, tooth extraction. No matter the amount of times you brush and floss, a cavity will not go away once the bacteria starts to take root. Hopefully, by now, you know how long you can leave a cavity untreated — which is not at all!
If you suspect you might have tooth decay, contact Texas Premier Dental at (281) 206-0100 to schedule an appointment.