Is a Cavity a Dental Emergency?

Is a Cavity a Dental Emergency?

Apr 01, 2022

Whether or not a cavity is a dental emergency depends on your overall oral health status. While a cavity is typically not a true emergency requiring immediate care from our emergency dentist near you in Chestnut Hill, MA, it is a sign that another dental emergency could be on the horizon. Dental pain, especially shooting pain that often accompanies dental decay, can signify other more advanced dental concerns beyond decay, such as an abscessed tooth or infected roots.

The short answer to the title question is that, in the truest sense, a cavity is not a dental emergency. However, if you are experiencing dental pain in any form, you should consult our dentist for a triage consultation. Our expert Dentist in Chestnut Hill, MA will help you determine whether or not you should come in for an emergency dental appointment.

Remember, delaying care can cause expensive and preventable future dental issues. So please feel free to call us now with your questions about cavities, dental emergencies, or any other expert care we provide at Hammond Pond Dental Group. We’re here to provide timely care and comfort for all of your dental concerns, whether it’s during an emergency appointment or a scheduled appointment.

Cavities Are the Most Common Concern for Patients

In the simplest language, cavities result from tooth decay. And although they are one of the most (if not the most) commonly treated conditions in modern dentistry, they are preventable. Before we look at the ways to prevent them, however, let’s look at the evolution of a cavity.

When plaque forms on your teeth, it hardens and creates an ideal environment for bacteria. The plaque contains acids that cause microscopic holes in the enamel of your teeth. These holes create a haven for acids and bacteria to thrive and grow. As tooth decay progresses with enamel erosion, tooth decay (also known as a cavity) develops, threatening the health of your tooth.

Some of the most common symptoms of a cavity include:

  • Sharp or radiating pain when you bite down
  • Sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweet foods and beverages
  • Brownish, blackish, or whiteish staining on the tooth surface

The above are symptoms that you may easily notice on your own. There is, however, another symptom that may not be as apparent – tiny holes in your teeth. It’s these tiny holes that a dentist can help recognize during preventive exams and cleanings that allow for early treatment.

Early treatment is essential for several reasons. First, a small cavity is easier to repair than a larger one. Plus, there’s a likelihood that a dentist near you can use natural-looking tooth-colored material to repair the cavity when it is small. When a cavity becomes too large to treat with a dental filling, a dental crown will be used to restore the size and shape of your tooth, but this procedure is more costly than early cavity filling.

Conditions that Lead to Cavities

In addition to poor oral hygiene in your daily routine or neglecting regular professional teeth cleaning & exam, a few other conditions can increase a patient’s risk of developing cavities.

One of the most common conditions is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or heartburn. The stomach acid caused by GERD makes its way into the mouth and wears away the protective enamel of your teeth. Your tooth’s natural defense against cavity development is compromised when this happens. Eating disorders and morning sickness, with vomiting as a common link, can also prompt a similar enamel erosion.

Another condition to be aware of is dry mouth. Saliva is your body’s natural way to move food and plaque from your teeth. When your saliva flow is compromised (by medication or medical conditions), your teeth are more likely to develop cavities.

The good news in scenarios such as these is that our dentist can apply dental sealants to at-risk teeth. They are painless to apply and provide several years of protection.

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