What Happens When a Cavity Goes Untreated?

Illustration of a Black woman in a yellow blouse wondering what happens to an untreated cavity

Some patients ignore tooth pain in the hopes that it’ll just go away on its own. But tooth pain is a possible sign of a cavity that needs treatment–and it won't fix itself. If a cavity goes untreated, it can open the door to even bigger issues.

How a Cavity Develops

Bad bacteria in the mouth produce acids and toxins that can strip minerals from the outside of the teeth. If these weakened areas are not remineralized, cavities can develop over time. A cavity is permanent damage in the tooth structure, which manifests as a hole. Your tooth will become more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures without sufficient enamel in this area. Along with increased sensitivity, you may start to feel pain where the cavity is, especially when biting into foods.

The Possibility of a Root Canal or Extraction

A cavity compromises your tooth's protection and can make your inner tooth susceptible to infection. That infection can reach deep inside your tooth, resulting in a buildup of bacteria and pus inside the canals of the tooth root. This is where root canal treatments get their name.

During a root canal treatment, we drill a small hole in the tooth to clean out the infection and debris from the canals. Then we reinforce and protect the tooth with a filling and/or crown. However, if an infection is too far developed, the only solution is to extract the tooth entirely to protect your oral health.

An untreated cavity can result in painful sensitivity, infection, and even tooth loss. It’s best to address cavities early with improved oral hygiene, fluoride treatments, a balanced diet, and fillings to prevent potential side effects and reduce your need for more invasive treatment later on.

Reach Out to Our Team!

If you are experiencing tooth pain or increased sensitivity, please contact Atlantic Dental Partners to set up an appointment. We can help get you on the path to better oral health as soon as possible. We have offices in Jamaica Plain and Malden and look forward to taking care of your smile!


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