If you notice a small area of decay in one of your molars, but the tooth doesn't hurt, you might put off seeing a family dentist for care. Although the cavity in your tooth is tiny, it can actually become a huge problem later. Even small cavities have the potential to lead to abscesses, nerve damage, and even tooth loss without the proper dental treatment. Here are things that may happen if you don't fill your small cavity and what you can do instead.
You Get a Bigger Cavity
Waiting to see a dentist can be a big mistake. Although it takes some time for cavities to develop, they can cause many problems once they do. One of the problems with cavities is that they can deepen or spread to the tissues inside teeth, including the nerves.
Not all nerve damage is noticeable right away. Sometimes, it takes awhile before you feel pain from a decayed tooth. But by the time you do feel pain, the decay may have already damaged or exposed the tooth's nerves. Exposed tooth nerves can become sensitive to different stimuli, such as cold tea or hot soup. Even soda, candy, and other sweet items may trigger pain.
In addition, infected teeth can cause an abscess to form at the end of one of your tooth's roots. Abscesses are small to large pockets of pus. The pus contains dead cells, bacteria, and lymph fluids. If an abscess leaks pus, it can potentially spread to and infect other mouth and body structures, including your heart.
You Lose Your Tooth
If your tooth becomes too damaged, a dentist may need to remove it. Losing a molar can have detrimental effects on your life. Your ability to chew meat, hard vegetables, and even some types of fruit may decrease. Your mouth may even hurt when you try to chew foods with hard or solid textures.
Tooth loss can also affect how you look in the future. The bones in your face and jaws need teeth to keep them strong and healthy. When you lose a tooth, the bone in the empty socket travels back, or reabsorbs, into the jawbone. Your jawline, cheekbones, and other bones of the face may shrink or appear smaller over time, which causes premature aging. Within the first year of losing your molar, your jawbone could potentially lose as much as 25 percent of its width.
In addition to premature aging, tooth loss may also cause other teeth to move out of place. Teeth positioned on either side of your missing tooth can travel into its empty tooth socket over time. The shift in tooth position may cause pain in your jaws, because your jaws need to work harder to chew food.
You Can Do These Things Instead
The first thing you can do is see a dentist for an exam. A dental provider can take X-rays of your tooth to see if the cavity spread deeper into it. If the decay has spread, a dentist may suggest that you have a root canal completed on the tooth. A root canal treatment removes dead tissues from inside the tooth and replaces it with a filling. The filling seals out bacteria, which could otherwise infect the tooth further.
If you don't need a root canal treatment, a dentist will most likely just fill the tooth. You may also receive a fluoride treatment to strengthen the tooth from future decay. After treatment, you can protect your tooth by brushing and flossing regularly. Try to avoid drinking or eating acidic beverages and foods.
Also, monitor your teeth for signs of tooth decay regularly. If you do see another cavity form, contact a dentist immediately for care. To learn more, check out websites like http://www.allaboutsmilesinc.com/.