The Connection between Cavities and Tooth Loss

December 23, 2016 — by Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky
Tags: Restorative Dentistry Dental Crowns Dental Fillings

Illustration of a cross-section of a tooth affected by a cavityFor most people, unfortunately, cavities are just a natural part of their lives. The vast majority of adults have had at least one cavity, while the average adult has several teeth that are no longer structurally intact. For most people, the question is not whether they will develop a cavity at some point in their lives, but how they will react once they have developed a cavity. For some people, a cavity is a wake-up call - a sign that they need to start brushing and flossing more regularly, cutting down on foods and drinks that are high in acids and sugars, and visiting their local general dentistry practice at least twice a year as recommended by the Canadian Dental Association.

Sadly, other people fail to seek the treatment they need when they develop cavities, perhaps not realizing the consequences they will eventually face. If left untreated, cavities will inevitably lead to tooth loss, which, in turn, will lead to a variety of even more severe oral health complications. Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky discusses the issue of tooth loss and cavities during consultations at his Edmonton, AB dental practice, stressing to his patients how important preventive dentistry and proper at-home oral hygiene are to preserving oral health. He also makes sure that his patients understand that it is never too late to achieve and maintain optimal health of the teeth and gums.

When was your last oral exam? If you haven’t had a thorough oral exam within the past year, we urge you to schedule an appointment at the general dentistry practice of Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky today.

How Do Cavities Lead to Tooth Loss?

You may already know that a cavity is a small hole or crevice that develops in a tooth. What you may not realize, however, is that once your tooth is structurally compromised in any way, further damage is impossible to avoid. Cavities will only become progressively worse if not treated. Bacteria will progress, causing the cavity to become wider and deeper. Because the cavity has already penetrated the protective enamel layer of the tooth, which is the tooth’s strongest defense against harm, there is nothing to prevent the ongoing degradation of the much more delicate inner layers.

Eventually, if left untreated, a cavity will spread to one or more of the root canals within a tooth. Within these root canals is a nutrient-rich substance called dental pulp, which is essential to the health of the tooth. When the cavity reaches the root canal, the dental pulp becomes exposed to outside elements, resulting in its becoming infected and inflamed. At this point, the patient must undergo oral surgery to have the dental pulp removed, the root canal disinfected, and the remaining tooth structure covered with a crown. If this does not occur in a timely fashion, the tooth will be lost.

Better still, if cavities are treated in their earliest stages, the tooth can usually be restored with a filling, an inlay, an onlay, or a dental crown before the root canal is breached, saving the patient considerable pain and a more extensive procedure while sparing much more of the natural tooth.

Learn More about Tooth Loss and Cavities

To learn more about tooth loss and cavities, please contact the general dentistry practice of Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky today.