While most people have had at least a couple of cavities, few people understand what they are and how dentists treat them. We’re seeking to change that, because educated patients tend to take better care of their teeth! Learn more about what a cavity is, signs a cavity may be present, and what treatment options patients have for repairing cavities.
What Is a Cavity?
A cavity is a permanently damaged area in the hard surface of your tooth that develops into holes.
Initially, you may not experience any signs of a cavity at all. However, as the decay increases, you may notice the following:
- Toothache or a dull pain in your mouth
- Increased sensitivity
- Visible holes in your teeth
How Does One Get a Cavity?
To understand how a cavity forms, first we need to discuss plaque. Plaque is a sticky film that is comprised of leftover food particles and saliva in your mouth. When you don’t brush properly after meals, plaque builds up on your teeth. The acids in plaque then eat away at tooth enamel leading to the formation of cavities.
What Options Do I Have for Repairing a Cavity?
We have 3 primary options for repairing your cavities:
- Filling. Fillings prevent minor to moderate tooth decay from getting worse. With a composite filling, we’ll remove the decayed tooth material, clean out the tooth area, and then replace the void left by the cavity with composite resin.
- Crown. Sometimes, we’ll use a crown to repair cavities. A dental crown is a tooth-shaped “cap” that’s placed over the tooth to restore its shape, size, and appearance. The process of getting a crown requires 2 visits. At your first appointment, we’ll capture an impression of your teeth and provide you with a temporary crown. Between your visits, your permanent crown will be created in a lab to match the color of your teeth and your mouth’s dimensions. Then, you’ll return to our office to have the temporary crown removed and the permanent crown affixed.
- Tooth Removal. This option is typically a last resort. A tooth extraction may be necessary in severe cases where a filling or crown cannot be used to treat the cavity and save the tooth.
There’s no standard way that we treat every cavity. Each individual’s situation is unique. Typically, the method that we choose depends on where the cavity is located and the extent of decay.
In cases where tooth decay is less severe, we can often repair the cavity with a filling. However, if the tooth decay has spread to a larger area, it may be preferable to use a crown or to remove the tooth entirely. At your dental consultation, we’ll tell you our treatment recommendation and the reasons behind it.
Scheduling your appointment with May Family Dental is easy! We have 2 locations for your convenience—one in Logan and the other in Zanesville. Click here to access our online appointment request form.