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What Happens to Untreated Cavities

We’re sure we’ve said this before, but ‘what happens next’ really depends on a number of different factors. 

In the best case scenario, a cavity is detected in its most early stages - so tiny, that it doesn’t really catch food and so tiny, that it doesn’t make sense to have it filled.  There’s no sensitivity and no pain but our dental team will give you a heads-up to focus on that particular spot a little more carefully.  And let’s say the person has amazing oral hygiene and follows up with routine cleaning appointments.  If they maintain those amazing hygiene practices throughout life, the small divot doesn’t progress into a cavity and they won’t ever really have to get it filled.  Unfortunately, this is usually the exception rather than the norm.

What usually happens is, the cavity enlarges or it deepens.  So, depending on how large the cavity is, we’d either recommend having it filled or if it becomes really extensive, then a crown will offer better protection of the tooth that remains.  

If the cavity deepens and progresses to the nerve (like in the diagram!), then you’ll likely have an infected root, discomfort and may need a root canal treatment.  Then, a post and core crown may be recommended as a next step.  

Not only does postponing a filling increase in discomfort over time, but the treatment costs also escalate as the problem grows.

Don’t leave your dental health up to chance:

  • Stay regular with your cleaning and check up appointments.

  • Follow up on recommended treatment when problems are detected early.  Feel free to ask us what will happen if you leave it untreated - we’ll be happy to explain it to you!

  • And, if you get a dental emergency, just give us a quick call, (416) 226-6688.


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