Posted on: 8 June 2018
Your teeth are harder than your bones. However, unlike your bones, which can heal by themselves, if you damage your teeth, they stay damaged. That is, unless you call on the services of a dentist. If you choose to ignore a cavity, even one that looks and feels innocuous, it won't heal. In fact, quite the opposite is likely to occur.
If you have noticed what looks like a cavity in one of your teeth, book a standard dental appointment as soon as you can. Otherwise, you may well find yourself in urgent need of an emergency dentist appointment very soon.
Cavities Provide Shelter for Bacteria
Acid is the main cause of dental cavities. This acid comes from the food and drink you consume and from the bacterial organisms that reside in your mouth. Bacterial species, such as streptococcus mutans, break down the sugars in the food you eat, turning them into juicy bite-sized chunks. They then devour them, and as all animals do, produce waste material.
Unfortunately, this waste material is highly acidic. A colony of bacteria then, could easily cause, or worsen, a cavity. Like miners chipping away at rock, these bacterial organisms can enter a cavity and continue to produce acid in relative safety. Over time, the cavity will worsen and this is a recipe for pain.
Dentin is Softer than Enamel
If a cavity extends to the dentin layer, the soft, porous layer located under the hard enamel armour, the speed of decay will increase. Because dentin is so soft in comparison to enamel, the acid produced by bacteria will very quickly make short work of it.
At this stage, your tooth will become sensitive, as it is now possible for hot and cold temperatures to penetrate to the nerve in the centre of the tooth.
Infection is Likely
A minor cavity is easy to treat. Your dentist will simply remove the decayed parts of the tooth and then place a filling into the tooth. This will stop the rot in its tracks and deprive the bacteria of their hiding place. Good oral hygiene and a dental checkup at least every 6 months should then keep any more cavities from forming.
However, if the bacteria create a cavity large enough to reach the pulp chamber, where the nerve is housed, infection will set in and the tooth nerve will die. As the nerve dies, you'll experience toothache that could last for weeks. You will also likely develop an abscess, a pus filled sack at the tip of the tooth's root, and this will cause swelling and pressure.
You could also lose the tooth if the cavity is too large or the infection becomes too serious. These are the consequences of ignoring a cavity. If you have noticed a cavity, don't wait until it turns into a dental emergency, see your dentist and have it filled as soon as possible.Share