Did you know that 1 in 4 adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have at least one cavity? Dental decay is also common in children, with 52 percent of kids between 6 and 8 having had a cavity in their primary (baby) teeth. Cavities occur when acids in the mouth erode tooth enamel. Without treatment, dental decay can lead to toothaches, infections, and ultimately extractions. However, with good dental care, cavities can be prevented.
If you recently discovered that you have a cavity, or think you have a cavity, don’t worry! There are several treatment options available. Learn more about the causes of cavities and the most common treatments.
What Exactly Is a Cavity?
A cavity is a hole that develops in a tooth due to decay. Cavities form in the hard outer layer of the tooth, known as enamel. You may not notice a cavity at first, but over time the damage can get worse. Common symptoms of cavities include pain and sensitivity.
Enamel is made up of mostly minerals, including calcium, which creates hard crystals that protect nerves and blood vessels in the tooth. The mouth is full of bacteria that is constantly forming plaque, a sticky film on the teeth. When you consume high-sugar foods, these bacteria produce acids that attack enamel. This damage can eventually lead to cavities.
Almost everyone has had a cavity at one time or another. However, young children and the elderly are most at risk. Certain conditions can also increase your risk of developing tooth decay, including chronic dry mouth, eating disorders, and reflux.
How are Cavities Treated?
The treatment of a cavity will depend on the size of the cavity and how early it was detected. The most common treatments include:
- Fluoride – If a cavity is caught in its earliest stage, fluoride treatments may be enough to repair the tooth enamel through a process known as remineralization. Your dentist may also prescribe a special toothpaste and/or mouthwash to aid in the recovery of the tooth.
- Fillings – Dental fillings are the most common type of treatment for cavities. During a filling, the decayed portion of the tooth is removed and the hole is filled with silver amalgam, composite resin, gold, or another filling material. Fillings help prevent further damage to the tooth.
- Root Canals – If a tooth surpasses its ability to be repaired with a simple filling, a root canal may be needed. During a root canal, the pulp of the tooth which contains the nerve endings responsible for pain are removed. You leave the office with a temporary filling and return for a permanent filling or crown.
- Extraction – If a tooth cannot be saved, a dental extraction may be recommended. Your dentist may advise you to have the empty space filled with an implant or bridge to prevent the surrounding teeth from shifting into the space and to prevent changes to your bite.
Schedule an Oral Health Appointment
Cavities are extremely common and there is no reason to feel guilt or embarrassment. Reach out to the friendly team of dental professionals at Vero Elite Dentistry to address your concerns and to schedule an appointment for treatment.