Young adult woman smiling while a dentist examines her mouth with dental tools

It’s common for people to feel like they can put off filling a dental cavity, especially when it doesn’t hurt. Unfortunately, if treatment is delayed for too long, a small cavity can transform into a serious issue that will negatively affect your oral health.

Our family dentists at MI Smiles Dental will all resoundingly tell you that it is not wise to wait extensive amounts of time to fill a cavity. The risk of developing other complications is not worth it when the filling procedure is so minor.

Keep reading to learn why cavities should be treated as soon as possible and not ignored.

Cavities Explained

A cavity is a hole in the tooth that has been caused by tooth decay. Any individual, no matter their age, can develop cavities if proper oral hygiene habits are not practiced. For many patients, cavities occur due to a combination of foods consumed and inadequate teeth cleaning.

Despite cavities being a very common problem, they are preventable. At-home dental care paired with regular checkups every 6 months in one of our offices will help you to avoid the formation of a cavity. It can be hard at times to know if you have a cavity so it’s important to keep up with dental visits.

Symptoms of a cavity can include:

  • Toothache or out-of-the-blue tooth pain
  • Sensitive teeth that react to hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages
  • Pits or holes in your teeth that are clearly visible
  • Pain when biting down
  • Staining on any surface of tooth that is brown, black, or white

For existing cavities, dental fillings remain the best option to seal the hole and prevent further damage.

The Consequences of Waiting

It can seem like a good idea at first to play the waiting game with an early cavity but the longer you drag your feet, the more the tooth decay will progress. Once a cavity has developed, there is no way to “cure” it with brushing or flossing. It must be filled.

When the cavity is left untreated, it can move down into an inner layer of your tooth known as dentin. Dentin is located just underneath a tooth’s white outer enamel and contains many nerve endings. If a cavity has reached this layer, you will start to feel sensitivity when eating or drinking.

Delayed treatment can also lead to the decay reaching the nerve of your tooth. At this point, our dentists may recommend root canal therapy and the placement of a dental crown to protect the vulnerable tooth. Tooth extraction could also happen if the decay is severe enough.

Cavity Filling Procedure: What to Expect

The procedure for fillings is straightforward and relatively quick. One of our dentists will start off by numbing the tooth and surrounding area with local anesthesia so you feel no discomfort. After the tooth has been numbed, the decay will be removed with the help of a dental drill.

The hole is then filled with tooth-colored composite resin that closely matches the shade of your natural enamel. The entire process, depending on how many cavities you have, will only take a few minutes. The treated area will remain numb for a few hours after the procedure but will subside. You can easily return to work or school following the appointment.

How to Prevent Cavities Altogether

Good oral hygiene is key to preventing the formation of cavities. Our dentists encourage you to diligently brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. The use of mouthwash on top of those two actions also helps cut down on plaque.

Scheduling professional dental cleanings with our dentists is necessary as well. During these appointments, your teeth and gums can be checked for issues, like developing cavities. Keeping tabs on your oral health in and out of our office is important not just for your mouth, but the entire body.

Come See Our Dentists Today

Think you might have a cavity? Our dentists in Grand Rapids, Comstock Park, and Grand Haven, MI, urge you to visit our dental office as soon as possible to have it filled. Call one of our MI Smiles Dental locations today to make an appointment.