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 dentist may recommend to treat cavities.
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 dentist 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 dentist 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 dentist 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 dentist 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 dentist may suggest a root canal treatment. When tooth decay progresses through the tooth’s protective enamel it generally settles around the centre 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 dentist might decide to place a crown over the affected tooth once the procedure is complete.
Another cavities 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 dentist 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.
Avoiding Cavities In The First Place
Thankfully, there are proven ways of avoiding cavities, so you might not need to undergo any of these treatments, starting with a comprehensive daily oral care regimen.
Brush daily for about 2 minutes, taking care to clean every surface of every tooth. Brushing can be improved by using an advanced brush head with an electric toothbrush, which removes up to 100% more plaque along the gum line compared to a regular manual toothbrush.
Most importantly, dental professionals recommend using fluoride toothpaste, which is proven to greatly reduce cavities by strengthening the hard tissues of your teeth. If you are at a higher risk of developing caries, your dental professional may also recommend a fluoride mouthwash and daily flossing as a part of your oral health care regimen. For an extra level of protection against cavities, consider discussing if you need a professional fluoride treatment when you visit your dental office next time.