Cavities in teeth aren’t just a painful inconvenience that you can just hope will go away. They require a specialized treatment that removes damaged tooth structure, repairs the tooth decay damage and puts an end to the pain. Here, we’ll review the different courses of action that your dental professional may recommend to treat cavities.
When plaque is not removed by a consistent oral care routine of daily brushing and flossing, your teeth are more likely to develop cavities. Visit a dental professional regularly so he or she can check your teeth for any problems including cavities or gum disease symptoms.
Not all cavities are the same, and your dentist can tell you what type you have after examining your teeth with dental instruments. He or she may also use x-rays to confirm areas of decay.
The three types of cavities are:
Cavities that tend to occur in the fissures on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are called occlusal cavities. These cavities can occur on areas of the back teeth that are harder to get to when brushing; as a result, the grooves in the teeth may collect cavity-causing bacteria. Left on the teeth, these bacteria secrete acids which damage teeth surface—the process that creates cavities.
Fortunately, there are a variety of treatment options available to address the problem of cavities on teeth. The treatment that is right for you is usually dictated by the severity of the cavity and can be selected only with the help of your dental professional who is able to best assess the severity of condition. Below, we’ll discuss treatment options from the least to the most severe cavities.
The most common form of treatment for moderate to severe cavities are fillings. When you get a filling, your dental professional drills into the affected tooth, removes the decayed tissues inside the cavity, and completes the treatment by filling the drilled space with an appropriate material to restore the strength of your tooth structure. While the majority of fillings are made with composite resin, they can also be made of a variety of different materials. Occlusal cavities, or cavities on back teeth might be filled with more-durable materials, gold and silver being two options. For interproximal cavities, or cavities in between teeth, your dentist may opt for composite resin on visible teeth to address your aesthetic concerns and to provide a more attractive appearance. Based on the severity and location of your cavity, your dentist will know which is the best option for treating your cavities.
Saving Severely Infected Teeth with Crowns
For more extreme cases of tooth decay, when too much of the tooth structure is lost, your dental professional might opt for crowns. Sometimes a severely infected tooth requires large fillings, which can make teeth vulnerable to cracking, and ultimately breaking. To treat this level of damage, your dental professional will try to save what’s left of the tooth, repair it and finally cover it with an alloy or porcelain crown.
Root Canals—Solution for Cavities that Damaged Tooth Nerves
When the damage from a cavity in your tooth goes too deep to be treated with the previous methods, your dental professional may suggest a root canal treatment. When tooth decay progresses through the tooth’s protective enamel, it generally settles around the center of the tooth in the dentin. Decay that extensively penetrates the dentin may result in damage to the nerves in the tooth root and require a root canal treatment to address the problem. During the root canal procedure, your dentist will remove the damaged nerve and its surrounding blood vessel tissue, or pulp and fill the area with an endodontic sealant. If a large part of the tooth is filed away during the root canal procedure, your dental professional might decide to place a crown over the affected tooth once the procedure is complete.
Extraction as a Last Resort
Another cavity treatment, tooth extraction, is usually a last option when the aforementioned treatments are not sufficient to solve the problem. This option is only explored if destruction of the tooth tissues increases the potential of infection spreading to the jaw bone. For decayed teeth that are easily accessible, your dental professional will perform a simple extraction that does not require incisions or general anesthesia. A tooth extraction will leave an edentulous area, or gap between teeth, which may be remedied by inserting a partial denture, bridge or implant where the tooth was.
Most Advanced for Electric Toothbrush
In the fight against cavities, following a good daily oral care regimen is the best course of action. It’s worth noting that decay might be reversible with regular brushing and fluoride. Enamel can repair itself by using minerals from saliva and fluoride from toothpaste or other sources. An anti-cavity fluoride toothpaste and electric toothbrush are powerful tools for getting the most out of your routine.
This blog has been reviewed and approved by Dr Robert Lee,
a dental professional of 35 years
Dr Robert Lee
Dr Robert Lee is a dentist with more than thirty years of experience in the industry.
Graduating from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery and from the University of New South Wales with a Master of Business Administration, Robert’s career has taken him all over the world – from Australia to Germany to his current position in Chicago, where he is the founder of Denticus Inc., offering strategic dental consulting.
Robert has previously worked for Procter & Gamble as the Director of Professional Scientific Relations in both the Cincinnati and Sydney offices, being responsible for external relations and scientific exchange with leading professional associations and industry thought leaders. He was also responsible for all technical and scientific training for the professional teams in North America and Australia.
Robert has been assisting the team at Oral-B by fact-checking and reviewing our blogs on dental health. You can find a list of the blogs Robert has approved below:
How Electric Toothbrushes Prevent Cavities
Tooth Decay and Cavities: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Dental Crowns: How Teeth Crowns Work
What Is A Root Canal
Gum Surgery: Types and What to Expect
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