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So you have a cavity. Do you think, “no big deal”? What about a cracked tooth? Still, “no big deal”? Many of us don’t relate that what goes awry with our teeth has anything to do with what is going on in our bodies. The good news is that when you have a cavity or a cracked tooth or some other dental health issue, you can address it before it becomes a problem for your overall health. Let’s walk through a scenario where our fictitious patient, Lucas, has a cavity.
Lucas starts noticing he has cold/hot sensitivity on a molar. He’s not in pain, so he just goes about his business. A month or two later, the sensitivity has intensified almost to the point of pain but he can bear it, so he ignores it. More time passes and he begins to have significant pain when he eats, so he opts to chew on the other side of his mouth. Some months later, he begins to have spontaneous pain in that tooth and he realizes he needs to take action. He visits his dentist, who tells him he needs to have a crown put on the tooth. Lucas is not pleased to hear this news. He decides he doesn’t want to spend the money for a crown and goes home. Days later, he cannot bear the pain and goes back to see his dentist. The dentist explains that because of the time that has passed the nerve tissue inside the tooth is infected and a root canal is now necessary. The cavity has progressed and his body now must fight this infection. Since Lucas now has the cost of the root canal and a crown to consider, he opts to have the tooth pulled. Fast forward 18 months, Lucas is now dealing with his remaining, previously healthy teeth that have shifted because of the space from the pulled tooth, the inability to chew properly, a greater susceptibility to tooth decay on other previously healthy teeth, gum disease and bone loss. This bone loss, which is permanent and irreversible, creates an unstable foundation for the remaining teeth. This sets in motion to possibility and likelihood of additional tooth loss. Had Lucas addressed and treated his cavity, he would have avoided this unfortunate and costly struggle to achieve a healthy mouth.
The message is that what may be perceived as an inconvenience (a cavity, cracked tooth) is much easier to treat than the problems that result from not treating it.