Questions About Cavities

Although you may have had a filling in the past, you still may not know much about dental cavities. Here are a few questions and answers to help demystify them.

How do cavities form?

Cavities, which are holes that develop within your tooth material, occur as acid demineralizes your enamel. Acids are corrosive to your tooth material and dissolve the minerals within your teeth.

Oral acids are often produced by the bacteria in your mouth, but they can also be introduced to your teeth through the foods that you consume. Some foods and drinks, such as sodas and citrus fruits have high acidic content. Regardless of the source of the acid, demineralization may still occur when your teeth are exposed to it.

What treatments are available for dental cavities?

There are multiple general dentistry applications that are used to treat a cavity, depending on its severity. Cavities that are newly formed and have not invaded the deeper layers of a tooth can be quickly filled using a resin-based dental composite material. However, deeper cavities may require more intensive treatment.

Before a deep cavity is filled, the dentist may use a drill to remove any decay. The filling, which may be made of silver amalgam, resin, gold, or metal alloy, is subsequently placed to fill the hole. Once the filling is installed, the integrity of the tooth is restored, and the tooth is protected from oral bacteria invading the hole.

If a cavity has progressed to the point of reaching the interior chambers of a tooth, the dental pulp may become infected. The pulp is the innermost layer of the tooth and contains the blood vessels and nerves. When the pulp becomes infected, the nerves of the tooth may become irritated, causing great discomfort. To remove the infection and alleviate the pain, a root canal can be performed. The root canal involves the removal of the pulp and the subsequent cleaning and filling of the tooth. Since a large amount of tooth material is usually removed during root canal therapy, the tooth is covered with a dental crown for protection and fortification.

Are there additional repercussions for delaying the treatment of a cavity, other than pain?

When a cavity is not treated in a timely manner, it may become larger; the decay may spread to additional teeth.

If you believe that you have developed a cavity, schedule an appointment with a dentist in your area for treatment.