Fairly or not, many people are afraid to visit the dentist. Instead, they ignore tooth decay in the hope that the tooth will get better on its own. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Keep reading to find out why an untreated cavity is even scarier than the dentist.
The exterior tooth is composed of the crown, which is above the gums, and the root, which is below. The innermost layer of the interior is called the pulp and contains all of the blood vessels and nerves. Above that is dentin, which is covered by enamel above the gum and cementum below it.
The beginning of a cavity is characterized by chalky white areas or yellowish spots on the surface. These are caused by calcium loss. If you catch your tooth decay here, it is reversible with noninvasive treatments like topical medications.
In the second stage, the enamel begins to break below the surface level. If it continues, the surface itself will be broken, and that damage cannot be easily fixed. At this point, the tooth requires professional cleaning and filling.
Next, the decay spreads from the enamel to the dentin. This is a larger problem, but it’s still treatable with filling. At this point, pain generally becomes noticeable, and it will get worse in the coming stages, so it’s best not to wait to seek treatment.
With the enamel and dentin already decayed, bacteria infects the pulp, causing pus to form and killing the blood vessels and nerves. At this point, a filling is no longer sufficient. Instead, you’ll need root canal therapy, which involves removing the pulp and nerve and then cleaning and sealing the inside of the tooth.
Finally, an untreated infection will reach the root tip and spread into the bones around the tooth. This can be accompanied by swelling of the cheek as well as severe pain. At this final stage, you’ll need antibiotics, painkillers, and either a root canal or removal of the whole tooth.
As you can see, an untreated cavity will not heal itself but rather continue to get more serious and more painful. If you think you’re experiencing dental decay, make an appointment with the friendly team at the Marcia L Blazer DDS PC practice in Scottsdale, AZ at (480) 596-8273.