Studies suggest that as many as 75% of Americans feel some level of fear or anxiety when it comes to visiting the dentist. For some patients, that means skipping a dentist appointment even when you know you have a cavity. When left untreated, cavities can cause more than severe pain and discomfort—they can also lead to tooth loss.
Warning Signs of Tooth Decay: What That Cavity Means
A cavity is the first sign that your tooth has begun to decay; what starts as a small hole gradually grows deeper and larger as time goes on. Although it requires treatment, cavities are a natural result of teeth breaking down, and it is one of the most commonly experienced dental issues for adolescents, teens, and adults alike.
What causes a cavity and how does it grow?
Many factors contribute to the formation of a cavity. Depending on your mouth health, your saliva can mix with the sugary foods you digest to eat away at your tooth. Ignoring your oral health by neglecting to brush and floss regularly can also cause cavities to form.
Because cavities are the results of gradual decay, when they first begin, they are often unnoticeable. However, as more time passes without treatment, the cavity will grow and become larger. Many patients who ignore their cavities, often don’t come in until they start feeling pain. If left untreated, cavities become infected and lead not only to tooth loss but bone density loss in your jaw.
Complications related to ignored cavities may include:
- Pain and discomfort from infection
- Tooth abscesses
- Swelling or pus around the tooth
- Damaged or broken teeth
- Issues chewing
- Positioning shifts of surrounding teeth after a tooth loss, that can require surgical intervention.
Because of the nature of many oral health concerns, waiting until you’re in pain means that it’s already too late to prevent cavity. But, by going to a dentist every six months, you CAN help ensure that any cavities you do have, are caught and treated promptly.
What happens after I or my dentist find a cavity?
Once a cavity forms, your Bellevue dentist will suggest a treatment plan that will include a filling for the cavity. The filling will also help to stop your tooth from continuing to decay while maintaining the integrity of your bite for comfort during eating and drinking.
As one of the most common dental procedures, cavity fillings can be completed quickly and painlessly in your Bellevue dentist’s office. In most cases, your cavity case will be taken care of in just one sitting.
How can I prevent cavities in the future?
In addition to following your dentist’s aftercare instructions the days and months after your filling appointment, preventative oral care is an essential component of maintaining your oral health. In addition to brushing and flossing twice a day, you should also schedule at least two cleanings every six months at your Bellevue dentist’s office to ensure your dental health is on the right track.
Don’t Wait for the Dental Care You Need
As an established family dentistry, we know that untreated cavities cause more harm and pain the longer they go untreated. Call Smiles of Bellevue today to get the care and treatment you need to ensure your teeth will stay strong healthy.