What do you mean I have a cavity? It doesn’t hurt.

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Wow, how many times in my 40 year career have I heard that? The answer is constantly. It’s a popular misconception that cavities hurt. They don’t in their early and easily treated stage. It’s just when they get larger and start to affect the dental pulp that they begin to hurt.

Once they start to hurt, meaning throbbing, sensitivity to hot or cold or biting it’s generally too late to just fill a simple cavity. It means the bacteria that cause decay have invaded the inner most part of the tooth, the dental pulp where nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue reside. Usually that means you’ll need root canal treatment which removes the soft tissue inside of the tooth.

It also means that the tooth will no longer have a blood supply and will tend to become dried out and fragile which means you’ll need a crown so the tooth doesn’t fracture. If all this sounds expensive it is. It just didn’t have to be.

Let’s see which makes more sense. Letting your dentist fix a small area of decay that he has detected for a reasonable fee or waiting for the tooth to become painful, necessitating a root canal treatment and then a crown for a way higher investment.

As a professional and as a person I feel sad when I have to tell a patient that they now need extensive, expensive treatment when two years earlier I told them they had a small cavity and their choice was to ignore it until it bothered them. Please don’t make me feel sad.

Prevention costs a lot less than disease.

Gerald Weger DDS

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