Believe it or not, 92% of adults have developed or will develop a cavity at some point in their lives (Radiance Dental). Cavities are tiny holes in teeth that result from poor dental hygiene practices. While the damage from a cavity is permanent, there are ways that your dentist can help stop a cavity from getting worse. And, of course, there are preventive measures you can take to avoid tooth decay.
There are many ways to prevent cavities, many of which you already know. You should avoid sugary carbonated drinks and sticky sweets. You should floss every day and rinse with mouthwash to avoid plaque buildup. Most importantly you should brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Cavities can also be prevented by drinking water after eating sweets and by consuming vitamins every day. The 5 recommended vitamins that will keep your teeth healthy are Vitamin A, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. Remember that you shouldn’t rely solely on vitamins to keep your teeth healthy, but they do help strengthen your teeth. If you do get a cavity, the best thing you can do is schedule an appointment with your dentist right away. Your dentist will offer you the best solution to repair your tooth and prevent infections.
Pit and fissure cavities are commonly found on back molars. They are caused by food particles and/or plaque stuck on top of the teeth. Improper brushing and poor dental hygiene practices can lead to pit and fissure cavities. To prevent these cavities, be sure you thoroughly brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes each time with fluoride toothpaste.
Smooth surface cavities form on the sides of your teeth. While this type of cavity is typically the easiest for a dentist to treat, it is very uncommon. Smooth surface cavities form extremely slowly as a result of poor dental hygiene. This type of cavity forms when people don’t brush or floss regularly, leaving harmful bacteria on the sides of the teeth.
The third type of cavity is a root cavity. As it sounds, this type of cavity forms on the roots of your teeth. Root cavities are most common for older adults as a result of aging. It is important to fix a root cavity as soon as a dentist diagnosis it. In severe cases, a root canal may be recommended to remedy a root cavity. The best way to prevent a root cavity is to practice good oral hygiene and make sure to get enough vitamins throughout life.
The most common option is a filling. Fillings can be made of silver, gold, porcelain, glass particles, plastic, or composite resin. Before filling a cavity, dentists will numb the affected area and remove the rotten parts of the tooth. Some of the instruments that dentists will need to complete the filling are a drill, air abrasion instrument, and a laser. The dentist will make sure all of the decayed parts of the tooth are removed, the cavity is thoroughly cleaned, and the filling is fully sealed. In under an hour, you can be on your way out of the office with healthier, stronger teeth.
Another option is a crown. If a tooth is damaged beyond repair with a filling, “the tooth can only be repaired with a crown, which attempts to restore the tooth at the gum line. The crown is sometimes added after a root canal to prevent the tooth from breaking,” (TheraBreath). Crowns can be used to protect an individual tooth that is broken or worn down or can be combined with a bridge or implant for multiple damaged teeth. A dentist will securely fit the crown so that it does not come off of the tooth. Crowns can be critical to prevent tooth loss or the need for a root canal. The entire process can take up to an hour and a half, but with a great dentist, it should be a painless procedure.
A third option is a root canal. Some dentists wait before sealing the tooth. “If an infection develops, the dentist will want to administer a medication before sealing the tooth. If an infection develops after the tooth has been filled, the tooth will have to be drilled again to remove the infection,” (TheraBreath). If a cavity has been neglected, the tooth will continue to decay and can become infected and extremely painful. In this case, the dentist will likely recommend a root canal. Like a filling or crown, a root canal only involves removing the damaged part of the tooth. However, because the affected area goes much deeper than a minor cavity, the dentist or endodontist will have to remove the soft tissue inside the tooth to stop the pain. Many people fear root canals and assume they are painful, but the pain is caused by tooth decay itself. Once at the dentist for a root canal, anesthesia is used to treat the pain and the procedure is relatively painless. Root canals only take 30-90 minutes! And they stop severe pain caused by major cavities.
For serious infections, tooth extraction may be the only option. Depending on the severity of tooth decay and pain the patient is experiencing, a dentist may refer the patient to an oral surgeon. Oral surgeons are able to administer sedatives to painlessly remove the tooth and any infected tissue. A single tooth extraction can take as little as 20-40 minutes! Typically addition tooth extractions will add another 10 minutes per tooth to the procedure and patients will be fully healed in under one month.
If you have a cavity or are experiencing tooth pain that needs to be treated, contact ABG Dental. We have been serving Elkhart and Goshen, IN for over 17 years. You can schedule an appointment by calling us at (574) 389-8300 or by contacting us online at abgdental.net. You can also stay in the know about your oral health by following us on Facebook at facebook.com/abgdental.