You may have experienced a cavity before, but did you know that a cavity is an early stage of tooth decay? You likely remember how easy it was for your dentist to treat this dental issue. But if you ignore a cavity, the decay can worsen and harm your smile in many dangerous and irreversible ways.
Your dentist can treat advanced tooth decay, but you should still prevent it whenever possible to preserve your smile and avoid intense restorative dental work. Read on to learn more about tooth decay, its progression, and what you can expect from your dentist if you develop this dental problem.
Diagnosing Severe Tooth Decay
Your dentist can spot a cavity, or a hole in the tooth enamel where plaque eroded into the surface, during a routine dental exam. You should schedule these appointments every six months or as instructed by your dentist. This way, a dentist can diagnose the problem in its early stage and treat it with more ease.
Sometimes, patients with a cavity will notice tooth sensitivity pain, but many people do not have any symptoms. If tooth decay advances, you may see other symptoms.
For instance, the pain in the tooth may worsen, especially if the decay reaches nerves closer to the tooth pulp. This may radiate pain to other places in the face as the nerves become inflamed. You may notice chronic headaches.
Advanced decay can also leave a tooth with dark discoloration or teeth breakage. If you have any concerns about the well-being of your tooth, do not hesitate to tell your dentist.
Treatment Options for Tooth Decay
A dentist can treat a cavity by drilling away the damaged portion of the tooth and filling the resulting hole with resin. This restores the structure of the tooth as well as seals and protects this vulnerable part of the tooth.
Severe tooth decay will need more of the tooth to be drilled away. This will mean that a dental filling cannot provide enough protection for the tooth after the treatment. In these cases, your dentist may use a dental crown to cover the tooth and provide optimal restoration of the tooth.
Risks of Untreated Tooth Decay
If you do not seek urgent treatment for a cavity or advanced tooth decay, the decay will continue to spread and hurt your smile. The decay will progress deeper into the tooth and can harm the pulp.
Not only can this become extremely painful for the patient, but it could put the tooth at risk of infection. An infection can cause an abscess or spread to other parts of the body. This could leave a patient in major medical danger, especially since the brain has close proximity to the mouth.
In severe instances, a dentist may need to extract a severely decayed tooth to protect the patient’s health. You can discuss restorative treatment options that can replace missing teeth and get your smile looking well again after this.