Cavity Treatment and Preventionby Dr. Lance R. Panarello
Cavities are one of the most common dental problems, but left untreated, they can become very painful and can lead to tooth loss. The dentists at Dental Health Care Associates treat cavities in a careful, skilled manner with the goal of restoring the patient’s oral health and function, while preserving as much tooth structure as possible.
Formation of a Cavity
Cavities are caused by a buildup of plaque that leads to tooth decay.
- Bacteria on the teeth create plaque, a sticky, clear film that coats the surface of the teeth. Plaque is removed during brushing, but it can linger on areas that are difficult to reach. Plaque that remains on the teeth will eventually become tartar, a hard substance which must be removed by a dentist.
- When plaque combines with sugar, it creates an acid that eats away at the enamel, creating small holes. These holes combine to become a larger hole, or a cavity.
- Patients may be completely unaware of a cavity until it has become painful or sensitive, which is one of the reasons why it is so important to visit a dentist regularly.
Cavities need to be treated as soon as they are detected to restore the health of the tooth. Treating a cavity usually requires only one office visit.
- If the cavity is still small, the patient will receive a filling to replace the decayed tooth structure.
- For more advanced cavities, the patient may need a crown over the tooth to replace the tooth’s structure.
- For cavities in which the inside of the tooth, or the pulp, has decayed, the patient may need a root canal, which involves removing the pulp and root inside the tooth and placing a crown.
- For patients who struggle with dental anxiety and are nervous about having a cavity filled or a root canal, sedation can be used during the procedure to help the patient remain calm and comfortable.
Of course, it is better to prevent cavities than to treat them. Here are a few tips for how patients can prevent cavities.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day, particularly after you have had a sugary beverage or had a sweet snack. Limit sugary drinks and instead drink more water to reduce the amount of sugar that comes into contact with your teeth.
- Floss regularly to remove food particles that can lead to tooth decay.
- Visit your dentist every six months for a regular cleaning and checkup so plaque and tartar buildup can be removed and cavities can be detected early.
- Try chewing a sugarless gum that has the ADA seal on the package. Chewing sugarless gum promotes the production of saliva, which neutralizes the acids that cause cavities and helps remove food particles.
Visiting Dental Health Care Associates for your regular checkups, as well as whenever you begin to feel pain or sensitivity, is key to obtaining and maintaining a high level of oral health. If you suspect a cavity may be forming, do not hesitate to make an appointment with our dentists in Aston.