Skip to main content

Got a cavity? What happens if you put off getting a dental filing?

One benefit of  visiting the best dentists in Fort Lauderdale regularly is that when problems develop, they are diagnosed early and can be treated early.  If you wait long stretches between visits to your family dentist, you may be surprised at how quickly dental decay can progress. No one wants to hear they have a cavity, but when cavities are diagnosed, Dr. Nancy Rotroff and Dr. Gerard Wasselle want you to know that getting your dental filling done in a timely manner can benefit you in more ways than one.

What causes cavities?

The bacteria naturally found in your mouth feed on sugars and starches from the foods you eat forming plaque, that sticky film that tells you it's time to brush your teeth.   While your Fort Lauderdale dentist promotes the the American Dental Association (ADA) recommendation of brushing for at least two minutes two times per day, most people brush inadequately either not brushing long enough or not brushing each area of the mouth equally.  Improperly aligned, or crooked teeth, teeth between which you often find food particles caught, and molars with lots of pits and fissures can make adequately brushing difficult.  When plaque and enamel-eroding bacteria are left behind,  they begin to attack the enamel of your tooth, weakening it and creating small holes where decay can begin to penetrate the tooth. 

What Are the Stages of Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay progresses through several stages over time starting with painless, decay into the enamel.  When you skip your appointment for dental exam and cleaning and the small decay is left undetected and untreated, the decay will continue to advance pushing into the dentin and eventually the pulp.  Both of the latter stages are usually accompanied with pain and higher treatment costs.

1. Demineralization Begins

The first stage of cavity formation begins when plaque and tartar attack the enamel of the tooth and it starts to weaken. Your tooth may develop either some white or dark spots, or you may be completely unaware of the cavity. At this early, stage the damage can be reversed by visiting your dentist in Fort Lauderdale. During your regular dental check-up, your dentist will diagnose the weakened area. Fluoride treatment by your dental hygiensit can remineralize your tooth.

2. Enamel Decay

Without intervention, the demineralization may progess and damage the protective layer of enamel on your teeth. Your affected tooth may become  sensitive.  Your family dentist will apply a small filling to enamel decay to prevent further damage.

3. Dentin Decay

Once decay has penetrated the enamel, bacteria has access to penetrate the inner portion of your tooth.  Tooth decay advances more rapidly once it reaches the dentin.  You may begin to experience tooth pain at this stage.  Your Fort Lauderdale dentist will be able to treat the decay using a filling, or possibly more extensive treatment, depending on the level of damage.

4. Pulp Decay

By the time dental decay reaches the pulp, you have a toothache.  When dental decay progresses to the pulp, the damage is severe.  Your dentist will likely recommend root canal therapy.

5. Abscess Develops

If bacteria cause an infection in the pulp of your tooth, an abscess will form. This is a very serious infection, where a pus-filled pocket settles into the tooth. An abcess will cause severe pain.  Your dentist will recommend either root canal therapy or tooth extraction.


While your at-home care is an essential component to keeping your teeth cavity-free, professional dental cleanings by your friendly dental hygienist at Excellence in Dentistry are equally important.  Your dentist may recommend a two times per year schedule or more often if you have existing gum disease or another dental issue.

Cavities and tooth decay are so common that you may not take them seriously. One in four Americans has untreated tooth decay. Most cavities do not cause pain until they progress into something far more grievous. What started out as a tiny cavity that required a relatively inexpensive filling can quickly progress into a painful toothache that may require additional treatment, additional cost and may even result in the loss of the tooth.

Dr. Nancy Rotroff and Dr. Gerard Wasselle at Excellence in Dentistry in Fort Lauderdale encourage you to keep your regular dental check-up and dental cleaning appointments.  With early diagnosis of your cavities your family dentist can stop the decay and protect both your tooth and your wallet.  Select the best dentist in Fort Lauderdale and Lauderdale by the Sea for all of your family's dental needs.  Schedule an appointment today by calling 954-928-1666.

You Might Also Enjoy...