Is tooth cavity a dental emergency?
Tooth decay can be considered as dental emergency situation especially when it causes pain, discomfort or compromises your aesthetic outlook.
At some point in your life you have probably experienced some degree of dental pain. It can range from temporary, minor pain to prolonged, excruciating pain. Generally mild sensitivity or discomfort could signify a cavity, but is not the sign of a serious dental emergency. Prolonged pain due to a cavity is simply a sign that you should visit your dentist, sooner rather than later. Because while a small cavity is not a dental emergency, it can progress to something worse if you do not seek treatment.
What are tooth cavities?
These are permanently damaged areas of the enamel. Also called tooth decay or dental carries, what starts off as just a weak spot on the hard surface can progress become a tiny opening that reaches all the way to the pulpy center of the tooth.
What causes dental cavities?
Cavities come from a combination of factors. There are millions of bacteria in your mouth. Some of the bacteria break down the sugar and starches from the food you eat and produce an acid byproduct. The acid gets trapped in plaque where it goes to work on the enamel of your teeth. This is why cavities often come from frequent snacking, sipping on sugary or acidic drinks, and not taking care of your teeth.
Signs and symptoms of tooth decay
Depending on the extent and location, the signs and symptoms of cavities can vary. As decay gets worse you may notice:
• Tooth sensitivity
• Spontaneous pain or toothache for no apparent reason
• Mild to sharp pain when eating and drinking
• Pain when you bite down
• Sensitivity when drinking something hot, cold, or sweet
• White, brown, or black staining on the surface of teeth
• Visible pits or holes in your teeth
How can I prevent teeth cavities?
Typically you should make an appointment with your dentist twice a year for exams and preventative treatment. Some patients who are disposed to dental decay may need more frequent visits every three or four months. You should also brush and floss your teeth twice a day. Ninety percent of dental diseases are preventable, and routine visits paired with regular oral hygiene practices will keep you ahead of dental decay and infection. But if you put off your dental visits you could suffer from periodontal disease, cavities, or much worse.
What happens if I have a tooth cavity and don't get treatment?
If you do not treat cavities the holes in the enamel can get larger and deeper. Not only could this result in a severe toothache, but can lead to infection of the dental pulp, an abscess tooth, or tooth loss. These situations are considered dental emergencies. If the pain is severe, you experience significant swelling, you have a fever, or pus or fluid drains from around the painful area, then you should seek emergency treatment as soon as possible. An emergency dentist will not only provide treatment for the pain, but will offer you options to correct the underlying issue, whether it be a filling, root canal therapy, or dental extraction.
How can I remedy dental pain until I see the dentist?
Pain is the leading reason why patients seek help from an emergency dentist. To remedy pain until you can get to the dental office you can use a cold compress, pain relieving gels, or over-the-counter pain medicine. Just be sure and tell the dentist what painkillers you have used prior to your appointment. And even if the pain goes away, you should still visit the dentist right away for treatment.