Do All Cavities Need To Be Filled?

For some people, dental treatments such as fillings are simply financially unattainable or uncomfortable. 

The idea of having a dentist drilling into your tooth can fill people with dread and they put up with the discomfort of a cavity and leave it untreated. 

Do All Cavities Need To Be Filled?

However, is this the best thing to do or can it lead to further complications?  In this article, we will look at whether you can leave some cavities unfilled and what happens when you do that.  

What Happens If You Leave A Hole In Your Tooth?

No one wants to find a hole in their tooth it can be quite disheartening, particularly if you take dental hygiene very seriously.

When you find a cavity in your tooth, it isn’t always necessary to fill it immediately. 

However, it is important to understand what can happen if you leave a hole in your tooth unfilled. 

Ultimately, any cavity that is left untreated is likely to keep growing as the decay spreads inside the tooth. 

It usually doesn’t take long for one cavity to become two cavities. 

When the decay spreads throughout the tooth, it becomes more prone to cracking and breaking as it becomes more brittle and weak.

When cracks and breaks occur, the tooth often becomes sharp and can cause further discomfort in your mouth.  

Generally, if you are considering leaving a hole in your tooth, this means the cavity isn’t painful. 

Leaving it untreated, with the decay spreading through the tooth and even to surrounding teeth, can be painful to deal with.

It is best to treat the cavity as soon as possible to avoid the pain and discomfort of more severe cavities. 

Can A Hole In Your Tooth Be Something Else?

When you first notice a change in your tooth, it can be natural to try and explain away the hole or change as something other than a cavity. 

It can be difficult to come to terms with the fact that you may have to undergo intensive dental treatment.  

In general, visible holes in a tooth are likely to be cavities. 

Once they are at the point where they are visible when you look in your mouth, they are close to needing treatment to avoid pain and discomfort. 

Even if the hole is very small and difficult to see it may not be a cavity yet, but it is on its way to being one. 

Once there is a hole in the enamel of your tooth, bacteria have a way in. 

As the hole gets deeper, it becomes more and more difficult to keep the hole clean with brushing and mouthwash alone.  At this point, treatment is the best course of action.  

Changes to your tooth that you can’t see very well or can only feel with your tongue may be cracks instead of cavities. 

Depending on position, cracks can also lead to the development of cavities.

Can Cavities Heal?

Cavities occur as a result of untreated tooth decay.  Once a cavity has formed it is extremely unlikely that it will begin to reverse or heal.

The only proper treatment for a cavity is for it to be filled or if the decay is bad enough, the tooth may need to be removed. 

The decay that leads to cavities can be treated in order to prevent cavities from developing in the first place. 

If you catch the decay and the early stages of a cavity early enough it is possible to prevent it from developing further, if the cavity is shallow enough, the enamel may be able to grow back over the hole.  

You can prevent cavities from developing by ensuring that you regularly practice good oral hygiene including brushing your teeth twice a day. 

For the best oral health, you should incorporate flossing and mouthwash into your dental routine.

What Happens If You Don’t Fill A Cavity?

When decay takes hold in a tooth, the enamel that is destroyed cannot be reclaimed and the damage cannot be reversed. 

If you don’t fill a cavity and leave the decay untreated it will simply spread and worsen within the tooth. 

If left for long enough, the decay may spread to neighbouring teeth and cause further cavities and decay in multiple teeth. 

All of this can lead to constant toothache and even tooth loss in the long run. 

If you visit your dentist with severe tooth decay, they will not be able to fix it with fillings and extraction may be the only option left.  

Can You Fill Your Own Cavity?

Can You Fill Your Own Cavity?

Dentists can be intimidating places, not to mention expensive.  You may be tempted to attempt to fill your own cavity at home. 

It is possible to fill your cavity yourself and you can even purchase at-home filling kits and repair kits to help you use the correct materials.  This is a much cheaper option than going to your dentist. 

However, it is not the recommended approach.  With at-home cavity repair kits, you are unable to adequately clean the cavity site and remove the infection. 

When the infection is left inside the tooth, filling the cavity simply seals the damage and the decay inside the tooth and it will continue to cause damage to your tooth and can end up being very painful. 

What To Do If You Have A Painful Cavity

If you develop toothache as a result of a cavity in your tooth, there are a few things you can do to help you lessen the pain and discomfort until you can get it filled. 

Natural remedies such as swilling your mouth with warm salt water can help to keep the area clean. 

Over-the-counter pain medication and a cold compress on the outside of your jaw can help to reduce the pain. 

Finally, flossing can help to remove debris from the cavity to keep it clean.

Final Thoughts

Although cavities can be left unfilled, the infection and decay are likely to continue to develop and will eventually cause pain or discomfort and could lead to tooth loss. 

The best course of action is to get cavities filled as soon as possible.

Andrew Kemp
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