A General Dentist Guide To Treating Cavities
General dentists often run across patients who have cavities and they have a few ways they can go about treating them. A cavity is a permanently damaged part of a tooth's surface due to tooth decay. Cavities usually occur as small holes or openings on teeth surfaces.
Cavities can be caused by a variety of things like repeatedly consuming sugary drinks or poor oral hygiene. Anyone with teeth can develop cavities and these holes will grow bigger if left untreated. A cavity can make its way to the pulp chamber, exposing the nerve and blood vessels. This leaves the tooth prone to infection.
A general dentist explains how cavities are treated
Some people notice the development of cavities in their mouths, but most have no idea since the early stages of cavities have no symptoms. Once the cavity progresses, it can come with symptoms like:
- Sensitive teeth
- Pain coming from a tooth
- Pain when a tooth is touched or when it is used to bite down on something
- Holes or pits forming on teeth
- Stains developing on the surface of a tooth
A general dentist might opt to treat cavities by performing:
- Fluoride treatments: If the patient's cavity is still in its early stages, a general dentist might be able to restore the tooth's enamel by performing fluoride treatments. Fluoride re-mineralizes the outer surfaces of teeth called enamel, and it can reverse minor tooth decay. A fluoride treatment contains a higher concentration of fluoride than mouth rinses, toothpaste, or tap water. It can come in the form of a varnish, gel, or liquid.
- Fillings: This is the standard way to address tooth decay once it progresses past the initial stage. Fillings can be made from a variety of materials like silver amalgam, porcelain, or composite resins. A filling closes up the hole created by the cavity and prevents it from expanding.
- Crowns: A dental crown might be used to treat a cavity if it has already caused serious damage to the tooth's structure. Crowns protect teeth from things that cause tooth decay like bacteria and acids. They also protect teeth from the forces generated while chewing. Crowns can be made from materials like gold, stainless steel, or porcelain.
- Root canal: This treatment is typically recommended when the cavity has compromised the pulp chamber. That leaves the nerve and blood vessels in the tooth vulnerable to infection. A root canal can be used to save a severely damaged or infected tooth. It involves cleaning out the soft tissues in the pulp chamber, disinfecting the tooth, and covering it up with a crown.
- Extraction: Extractions are used as a last resort when it comes to fighting tooth decay. An infection resulting from tooth decay can end up spreading to more vital areas in the skull like the brain.
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