So, doctor says you have a cavity :(. Now what?
If you decide to leave it untreated, it is *theoretically* possible that if you take extra good care of it at home, then it doesn't progress and just stay the same for the rest of your life. However, we cannot stress enough that this requires extra vigilance in oral care and is highly unlikely. The prognosis also depends on how big the cavity was when it was detected.
Don't get us wrong, we're not trying to rag on your oral care skills, but simply put: if you have a notch or tiny hole or something that'll trap bacteria, plaque and food particles, it will catch 'em all and further eat away at your tooth. If you can imagine smoothing peanut butter over an English muffin - all the holes will fill up with extra peanut butter and will make for a delicious snack :).
Imagine your teeth in place of the English muffin and cavity-causing-buggers as the peanut butter - not such a happy situation after all because they'll continue eating away at your teeth :(. So, what started out as a 'small cavity' will either dig deeper into your tooth or grow bigger in circumference size or a combination of both.
If your cavity stays small but drills deep, it could end up reaching the nerve. In this case, you may need a root canal treatment and the likelihood that you'll need a crown and post to protect what remains is high.
If your cavity enlarges circumference-wise, you may need a bigger filling to repair the hole or, if the cavity is really big, it may be wiser to have a crown fitted - or a "cap" on the tooth. We assess cavity sizes by how many surfaces of a tooth it's impacted.
So, the options are pretty straight-forward. You can take action right away and have a filling done -> this will be the most cost-effective solution and will take the least amount of time out of your schedule to complete (which means it's doubly cost-effective because you take less time off of work!) Or, you can postpone until the problem is much more serious and require more treatment, more appointments and significantly higher costs.
"Well, what if it's a cavity on my child's baby tooth? Won't they just lose that set of teeth anyways?"
It depends on how close that tooth is to falling out because there is a difference between expecting a tooth to fall out in a couple of years compared to one that'll likely fall out in the next week or so.
If the tooth is hanging by a thread, of course, let it fall out naturally.
If it doesn't look like it's going to come out anytime soon (and you can ask our doctors in person, when your child comes for check ups and appointments), then it's wise to have it filled when the cavity is small. For one thing, you probably don't want an infection to happen. You probably don't want the cavity to hit the nerve either, cause a toothache for your child and then have a pulpectomy (root canal on baby teeth) done - the experience could be unpleasant to say the least. Leaving the decay untreated and/or having the tooth pulled can also interfere with the eruption of their adult teeth.
So, once a cavity is detected, it's important to have it filled for adults as well as children. Call our office to see how we can accommodate you and your family: (416) 222-4762.