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What Happens If a Cavity Is Left Untreated?

Blonde woman cringes as she touches her cheek due to extreme tooth pain from an untreated cavity

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although cavities are preventable, they are one of the most common chronic health problems of childhood. Moreover, 1 in 4 adults have untreated cavities in the United States. Read on to learn why ignoring a cavity can result in serious health consequences.

Further Decay

Unfortunately, cavities do not heal on their own. If you have a cavity, the decay will continue to grow and spread until it is treated by a dental professional. If detected early enough, you will only need a small filling. If you do not treat it early, the decay will eventually reach the inner pulp of your tooth (composed of nerves and blood vessels) and you will be in a great deal of pain. Severely advanced decay may require root canal therapy or even a tooth extraction!


If decay damages the pulp of your tooth, it isn’t only extremely painful, but it also increases your risk of getting an infection. This is because bacteria will have a much easier way to get into your bloodstream. You may require a root canal or extraction at this point. Some indications that your cavity may have progressed to an infection include:

  • Throbbing pain
  • Swelling in the cheek area
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • Sensitivity to pressure
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Fever

If you are experiencing any of these signs, contact our office right away so you can get the treatment you need!

Serious Illness

If the infection gets bad enough, you may experience even further systemic complications. An infection that enters your bloodstream will eventually spread throughout your body. If the infection is left untreated, you can become seriously ill. In some cases, the infection can be fatal.

Reach Out to Our Team!

At your biannual checkups, we evaluate the health of your teeth and will confirm whether you are cavity-free. If you are currently experiencing any symptoms of a cavity or infection, contact Sycamore Hills Dentistry right away. We will schedule you an appointment to see our expert dentist, Dr. Rorick, as soon as possible.