Fighting Tooth Decay: Treatment Options for Cavities
At The Smile Center here in Virginia Beach, we believe in providing patients with exceptional dental care. That means advanced restorative dentistry for major dental problems as well as basic prevention and maintenance for routine care.
When it comes to routine dental treatments, fighting tooth decay is quite common. Let's look at tooth decay and the various ways it can be dealt with and prevented.
Explaining Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is the result of oral bacteria in your mouth feeding on food particles, particularly sugars and carbs. When feeding on food particles, oral bacteria creates an acidic substance that wear away the enamel layer of a tooth. When the enamel is eaten away, that is known as a cavity. Left untreated, the cavity can increase in size, destroying the enamel, the underlying dentin layer of a tooth, and potentially infecting the soft tissue located inside of a tooth.
The treatments noted below are an effective means of dealing with tooth decay in various forms.
Dental fillings are small and very common dental restorations used to treat minor and basic cavities. These restorations come in metal and tooth-colored form. The ideal kind of restoration will depend on the tooth that's being treated and the nature of the tooth decay. (The restorations below all come in metal or tooth-colored form, and similar considerations are made with regard to their proper use.)
Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are the next level of dental restorations used when a dental filling is not sufficient for treating tooth decay. The inlays and onlays are essentially larger fillings, able to restore larger portions of a tooth that's been damaged or decayed. The inlays/onlays are even able to rebuild the cusps (biting surfaces) of the teeth.
When a tooth is seriously decayed or damaged, the last option to save the tooth is a dental crown. A dental crown caps the remaining healthy tooth structure, protecting the tooth from pain, discomfort, and acute sensitivity. The crown will also restore a patient's ability to bite and chew normally. Typically, tooth-colored fillings are common for the prominent front teeth, while metal fillings are more common for the molars and pre-molars.
Root Canal Therapy
If tooth decay progresses and leads to the infection of the dental pulp, a root canal is performed in order to prevent further spread of infection and to alleviate pain. The soft tissue inside of the tooth is removed, the pulp chamber sterilized, and the hollow chamber within the tooth filled with an inert material to ensure the stability of the tooth. A dental crown is then placed to restore the tooth's strength and functionality.
When a tooth is too decayed to be saved, the best option will be extraction. This is generally avoided when possible since it's most ideal for patients to maintain as much of their natural tooth structure as possible.
Tips for Cavity Prevention
In order to prevent the formation and progression of tooth decay, it's best to consider the following dental tips:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day
- Floss your teeth at least once a night
- Avoid snacking on sugary foods
- Avoid drinking sodas and fruit juices
- Drink water to remain well hydrated through the day
- Visit your dentist twice a year for your regular checkups
Learn More About Treating Cavities
For more information about treating and preventing cavities, it's important that you contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. The team at The Smile Center looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you achieve the best dental health possible.