Are Dental Cavities a Dental Emergency?Munil Koppanati
A dental cavity is typically a hole that forms in a tooth and is typically caused by decay from bad oral hygiene such as neglecting to brush your teeth or consuming really hard to chew foods. These cavities if untreated for an extended period of time can lead to sensitivity and pain, and if left alone for a long period of time can lead to even further decay of the overall tooth. Most cavities, however, aren’t an immediate dental emergency especially if the cavity is small and not producing any discomfort. However, any cavity should eventually be filled in by a dental professional to help avoid any costly treatments or extensive repairs down the road. On the other hand, cavities that are large, causing extreme discomfort or pain, or is associated with facial swelling and fevers may require immediate dental evaluation. These symptoms typically mean that there is an infection brewing in the oral cavity, and most cases require antibiotics and deep cleaning to effectively kill off any bacteria.
Can You Have a Cavity Without Pain?
You certainly can have a cavity without any pain, especially if you only have a small cavity that hasn’t damaged the tooth too much. However, over time the cavity has a chance of getting larger and injuring the tooth further, to the point where most patients will eventually begin experiencing spontaneous, sharp pain. Cavities without pain can also be nefarious as some patients may not even notice that they have a cavity in the first place. This means they may continue to participate in bad habits such as chewing hard, difficult to chew foods, not brushing often, or neglecting to floss. By the time pain does start, however, the damage is already severe and at this point will require more filling and expensive treatments to properly alleviate both the pain and the cavity. Needless to say, even cavities that don’t cause any pain should be evaluated by a dentist and treated as soon as possible to avoid any uncomfortable symptoms and costly treatments.
Do Little Dental Cavities Need to be Filled?
Depending on the size of the cavity, extremely small cavities that do not invade the dentin layer of a tooth do not necessarily have to be filled. These small cavities can actually be reversed so long as you engage in proper oral hygiene such as brushing twice a day with a fluoride fortified toothpaste, using mouth wash as appropriate to kill off any bacteria in the mouth, and flossing regularly. Using these simply practices can help remineralize the teeth and naturally refill a small cavity. However, if a small cavity isn’t taken care of with good oral hygiene, there is a risk that the cavity will get larger overtime. Once the cavity has reached a certain size, a dental filling is the only way to treat the defect. Your dentist can help guide you as to the proper types of fillings that can be used for your specific situation and budget.