Cavities are one of the most common, yet preventable diseases. The increased amount, availability and variety of sugar-filled drinks and food has helped take the cavity issue to epidemic proportions.
Nowadays, cavities are seen as no big deal. All you need to do is get a quick, routine, painless filling procedure at the dentist’s office. You may notice tooth aches, pain or discomfort that alert you to the presence of a cavity. If your cavity causes too much discomfort, you’ll likely seek treatment from your dentist immediately.
Not all cavities, however, exhibit such obvious, noticeable symptoms. You may have a cavity or two and not even know it. These cavities can only be diagnosed by the trained eye of a dentist. If you’re not in the habit of seeing your dentist every six months, the cavity will continue to progress, leading to further damage of teeth, gum and jaw tissue. Untreated cavities can lead to painful infections that can greatly impact one’s quality of life and even be life-threatening.
The following are some of the overlooked, hidden complications that can result from an untreated cavity:
Weakened Teeth. The longer you let a cavity go untreated, the more damage it causes to your tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is what gives your teeth the white color and hardness. Enamel protects the inside of your teeth. When untreated cavities compromise the enamel your teeth become weakened and more prone to chipping and breakage. Weakened enamel exposes the nerves of teeth making them sensitive to food and drink. Bacteria and disease will also more easily infiltrate the inside of the teeth leading to possible infection of the teeth roots and pulp (center).
Increased Risk of Losing Teeth. When complications from cavities lead to infection of the pulp and/or roots of teeth, they can loosen and fall out. Adult teeth don’t grow back so your smile will become permanently scarred by embarrassing gaps unless you get implants. Besides making one self-conscious of their smile, missing teeth make it more difficult to eat and speak. If left untreated, the other teeth will shift to fill in the gap and the strength and structure of the jawbone will also become weakened and compromised.
Increased Risk of a Tooth Abscess. This painful accumulation of pus around the infected tooth not only lowers your quality of life as you’ll be in severe pain until it is treated by a dentist, but it can also lead to life-threatening complications and infections. If left untreated, the infection of the abscess can trigger a fever and enter the bloodstream, causing a deadly health condition called sepsis.
Irreversible Damage to the Jawbone. Complications from untreated cavities can lead to gum disease (gingivitis). Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis. Unlike gingivitis that can be easily treated and reversed, the damage done to the gum tissue and the tooth sockets of the jawbone with periodontitis can’t be reversed. Damage to the jawbone can make it more prone to injury, negatively inhibit the jaw’s proper functioning and can even alter the shape and structure of the mouth and face.
Other Serious Health Conditions. As mentioned earlier, the germs and bacteria from the pus infection can enter the bloodstream causing life-threatening health conditions. Two of these conditions are endocarditis and cardiovascular disease. Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of the heart and cardiovascular (heart) disease involves the clogging of the arteries of the heart. Both conditions are caused by the ensuing infection of cavity complications.
Risk of Premature Birth and Birth Weight. Gum disease caused by complications from untreated cavities can lead to premature birth and babies with low birth weights in women who are pregnant or plan to have children.
It can be easy to dismiss a cavity. It is also easy to overlook the possible complications of a cavity especially if you don’t experience any abnormal or uncomfortable symptoms. Cavities are easily prevented with good oral hygiene that involves regular visits to the dental office. When cavities are treated early, potentially serious and deadly complications can be avoided. If you suspect you have a cavity or if it has been longer than six months since you last saw a dentist, contact us at Hazzouri Dental, your dentist in Scranton, PA, to schedule an appointment.