Tooth decay and tooth cavity are some of the most common health issues in the world. These dental problems are especially common among older adults, teenagers, and children. Nevertheless, anyone with teeth can suffer from cavities, including infants.
Cavities are areas that are permanently damaged in your teeth’s hard surface, which develop into holes or tiny openings. Also known as caries or tooth decay, cavities are caused by various factors that include not cleaning teeth properly, taking sugary drinks, taking snacks frequently and bacteria in the mouth.
If tooth cavity is not treated, their size increases and they affect the teeth’s deeper layers. Cavities can result in severe toothache, tooth loss, and infection. To protect yourself from tooth decay and tooth cavity, follow good flossing and brushing habits and go for regular dental visits.
Symptoms of Tooth Cavity
Cavities have varying symptoms and signs, depending on their location and extent. When a tooth cavity begins, there may not be any symptoms. As the tooth decay size increases, the following signs and symptoms may be noticed:
- Toothache, spontaneous pain i.e., pain occurring with no apparent cause
- Visible pits or holes in the teeth
- Mild to sharp pain on drinking or eating something cold, hot, or sweet
- Tooth sensitivity
- Pain on biting down
- White, black or brown staining on the tooth surface
When to Visit a Dentist
You might not always be aware of the formation of a cavity. So, even if your mouth feels good, it’s important to go for routine dental cleanings and check-ups. Nevertheless, if you encounter mouth pain or a toothache, visit your dentist immediately.
Causes of Cavities
Tooth decay is the chief cause behind dental cavities. Tooth decay is a process occurring over time. The following is how tooth decay takes place:
Formation of Plaque
A clear sticky film coating your teeth is referred to as dental plaque. Plaque forms because of not cleaning teeth properly and taking lots of starches and sugars. If starches and sugars are not cleaned properly off the teeth, bacteria start feeding on them quickly and lead to the formation of plaque. Dental plaque staying on the teeth can become hardened above or under the gum line to form tartar (calculus). Tartar increases the difficulty in removing plaque and creates a shield for the bacteria.
Attack by Plaque
Dental plaque contains acids that remove minerals in the hard, outer enamel of a tooth. This erosion leads to the development of tiny holes or openings in the enamel, which is tooth cavity’s first stage. Once enamel areas wear away, the acid and bacteria can reach the teeth’s next layer – dentin. This layer is softer compared to enamel with lower resistance to acid. There are tiny tubes in dentin that communicate directly with the tooth nerve causing sensitivity.
With the development of tooth decay, the acid and bacteria continue to invade your teeth, reaching the pulp (inner tooth material) next, which consists of the blood vessels and nerves. The bacteria cause the pulp to become irritated and swollen. As the swelling cannot expand within the tooth due to lack of space, the nerve gets pressed which causes pain. The discomfort may even reach outside the tooth root, to the bone.
Treatment of Tooth Cavity
Regular dental check-ups can help in the identification of cavities as well as other dental health conditions before the occurrence of any troubling symptoms and more serious problems. Seeking care sooner improves the likelihood of reversing tooth decay’s earliest stages and preventing progression. In case treatment is performed for a tooth cavity before pain starts, you are unlikely to need any extensive treatment.
Cavity treatment depends on its severity and your situation. The different treatment options are discussed below:
1. Fluoride Treatment
In case a tooth cavity has just begun, a fluoride treatment can help in restoring the enamel of the tooth. It can also assist in reversing a cavity that’s in the early stages. The fluoride in professional fluoride treatments is more than that in mouth rinses, toothpaste, and tap water. Fluoride treatments may be foam, gel, or liquid which is brushed onto the teeth or placed within a small tray that fits over the teeth.
Known also as restorations, fillings are the chief option for treatment on the progression of the decay beyond the earliest stage. Teeth fillings are made up of different materials, like composite resins that are tooth-colored, dental amalgam (a combination of various materials), or porcelain.
In case of weakened teeth or extensive tooth decay, you might require a crown, which is a custom-fitted covering replacing the entire natural crown of your tooth. The decayed area, as well as enough of the tooth’s remaining part, is drilled away by the dentist to facilitate a good fit. The materials with which crowns are made include resin, high strength porcelain, gold, and porcelain fused to metal.
4. Root Canals
A root canal may be required when decay reaches your tooth’s inner material (pulp). The root canal is employed to save and repair an infected or badly damaged tooth instead of taking it out. The dentist removes the pulp of the diseased tooth. The dentist may put medication sometimes in the root canal for eliminating any infection. The dentist will then replace the pulp with a filling.
5. Tooth Extraction
The decay is so severe in some teeth that restoration is not possible, and they must be removed. Pulling out a tooth can create a gap that may cause shifting of the other teeth. In such a situation, consider getting a dental implant or a bridge for replacing the removed tooth.
Address Cavities Effectively with Des Moines Dental Group
If you are troubled by cavities or thinking what to do about tooth decay, we’ll be happy to help you! DM Dental has experienced dentists who know how to treat tooth decay, have expertise in addressing cavities, and minimize teeth deterioration. Our dentists’ guidance facilitates fast recovery too. Book an appointment online or call us today to seek expert cavity and tooth decay treatment!