Are you experiencing tooth sensitivity or pain? If so, you may have a dental cavity, also called caries. If you have pain, sensitivity or discomfort with your teeth or in your mouth, schedule a dental examination as soon as possible. Cavities that are discovered early are easier to treat. The longer you wait, the higher the chance of developing severe problems or more costly treatments. For your convenience, you may opt to work with a family dentist who treats children, adults and seniors. A family dentist follows the growth, history and dental needs of you and your children over a lifetime.
A dental cavity is a hole through the outer layer of a tooth, which leave the internal portion exposed. Cavities occur from erosion or degradation of tooth enamel, a hard, calcified material that forms a tooth’s outer layer. Once a hole pierces the enamel, the inner portion of a tooth is endangered.
Teeth are made of four layers of tissues:
Cavities form when acids in the mouth dissolve tooth enamel. Millions of bacteria in the mouth feed on carbohydrates found in sugars, starches and drinks. Bacteria convert these substances to acids that combine with saliva and food particles to form plaque, a sticky film that coats teeth. When plaque remains on teeth, the acids gradually erode the enamel, and a cavity forms.
A dental cavity may take years to form. Because enamel does not contain nerves, you may not have any sensation that a cavity is developing until it reaches the tooth’s interior. There, dentin tubules connect to nerves in the pulp. You may experience sensitivity to hot and cold, pain, bad breath or facial swelling. Left untreated, cavities can cause infections in the gum, jaw or other parts of the mouth and weaken the structure and integrity of the tooth.
After completing an oral examination of your mouth and teeth, your dentist will devise a treatment plan according to the number and types of dental cavities, your age and your overall health. Your exam may include X-rays that show tooth irregularities and cavities that are not visible, such as those that form between teeth.
There are three main types of cavities:
Your dentist has several ways to treat dental cavities depending on how advanced the decay is and where it occurs:
Fluoride treatments are a simple, effective option for cavities that are just forming. Fluoride remineralizes tooth enamel. Although toothpastes and municipal tap water contain fluoride, professional fluoride treatments contain more of this mineral. Topical applications of fluoride penetrate tooth enamel and inhibit acid production that causes plaque. Treatments also replenish calcium and phosphate, elements in saliva that help protect teeth from decay. Your dentist may recommend checkups twice a year to monitor the healing process.
If a cavity has penetrated the enamel, fillings restore a tooth and seal the surface. Your dentist will drill into the tooth to remove decay, clean the tooth and fill the hole. Filling materials include tooth-colored resins, porcelain, gold or silver amalgam. Fillings, a type of restorative dentistry, are also used to repair cracked, worn or damaged teeth.
When decay progresses into the root of a tooth, your dentist may recommend a root canal. Symptoms of advanced decay include severe pain, inflammation or an infection in the tooth, gums or bone. During a root canal, your dentist removes the tooth’s pulp, which contains the nerves that cause pain. Then, the interior is cleaned and filled. A temporary filling closes the opening and stays in place until restoration is complete. Usually, this includes fitting a crown or other device.
If a tooth is severely decayed, placing a crown preserves the tooth and prevents further degradation. Crowns protect weakened or diseased teeth or hold a dental bridge in place. They are also used in cosmetic dentistry to cover stained or misshapen teeth.
Usually, two or three visits are required to place a crown. First, the dentist prepares the tooth for accurate fitting. An impression of the tooth is sent to the lab that makes the crown. The crown is contoured to the shape and size of your natural tooth so that it fits snugly. During your second visit, your dentist fits the crown over your tooth.
Crowns are available in several materials, including metals, porcelain, resin and ceramics. Your dentist will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these materials with you to help you select one that suits your budget and health requirements.
If other treatments are not possible, your dentist may recommend pulling your tooth. Although an extraction may seem like a simple solution, saving a natural tooth is important for overall health. A missing tooth affects your ability to chew. It may allow other teeth to shift and cause misalignment. Teeth also contribute to facial structure. Loss of a tooth can make your cheeks look sunken or affect the symmetry of your face. If you must have an extraction, talk with your dentist about dental implants.
Keeping your teeth healthy contributes to overall health. Trinity Dental Care in Scottsdale, Arizona, offers preventive dentistry services for children, teenagers, adults and seniors. If you have a dental cavity, Trinity Dental Care offers a wide range of restorative dentistry services, including fillings, root canals, crowns and implants. If you are looking for the best dental care clinic in Scottsdale AZ, call Trinity Dental Care for an appointment.