Cavities are a common type of dental damage and an early stage of tooth decay. They occur when the enamel, the outer layer of a tooth, weakens in some way. Then natural oral bacteria can penetrate the vulnerable spot and start to eat away at the dental structure.
A dentist can treat a cavity with relative ease during one dentist appointment. But if you do not seek prompt treatment, the tooth decay will worsen significantly.
Advanced tooth decay causes more extensive dental damage and will require more intense dental work to fix. Read on to learn more about advanced tooth decay, its risks, its treatment, and its prevention.
What Happens When You Do Not Treat a Cavity Promptly?
Tooth decay does not go away on its own. So if you do not seek urgent care from a dentist to get rid of a cavity, the decay will advance. It will penetrate deeper into the enamel to reach the inner layers of the tooth: the dentin and the pulp.
This can result in pain for the patient and put them at a high risk for infections. Damage to the tooth pulp may require root canal therapy. And an infection in the tooth can put your entire body in danger if it spreads, especially since the tooth sits in close proximity to the brain.
A dentist might need to extract a severely decayed tooth in order to stop the spread of the infection. Or the tooth could fall out on its own. To prevent this significant dental damage, you should treat cavities as directed by your dentist.
How Can a Dentist Treat Advanced Tooth Decay?
A dentist treats a cavity by drilling away the damaged part of the tooth and filling the resulting hole with composite resin to restore and protect the tooth. In cases of advanced tooth decay, a dentist must still drill to get rid of the decayed portion of the tooth. But a dental filling will usually not provide enough coverage to restore the dental structure.
So a dentist will give a patient a dental crown. This ceramic cap will shield the tooth, sealing into place with dental cement. You can anticipate protection and enhancement from the crown for about fifteen years.
As mentioned, severe cases of tooth decay may require extraction. A dentist will determine the best course of action when you schedule a dental consultation.
How Can I Prevent Tooth Decay?
The best way to fight cavities and more advanced tooth decay is to keep your teeth clean with a good oral hygiene routine. This will entail brushing your teeth at least twice per day and flossing daily. You should also visit your dentist for regular teeth cleanings to maximize preventative dental care.
However, some dental patients have a higher propensity for tooth decay due to a number of risk factors. They might have more aggressive oral bacteria that will result in enamel erosion. Ask your dentist about other tips that can preserve your smile.