Teeth are covered with a hard protective top layer called enamel. But once the enamel is weakened, a pit or cavity can start to form in or on the tooth surface. Bacteria that builds up in your mouth from leftover bits of food and particularly sugar produces a type of acid that can start eating through the enamel.
Plaque begins to build up on teeth within 20 minutes after eating. If it is not removed, tooth decay will begin.
The acids in plaque damage the enamel covering your teeth, and create holes in the tooth (cavities). Cavities usually don’t hurt until they grow very large and start to affect nerves that are deeper in the tooth or cause a tooth fracture.
The most important thing to know about cavities and fillings is that cavities can be prevented with good brushing and flossing habits.
However, if you do have a lapse in your dental hygiene, cavities can pose a real problem, as the longer you let them go, the worse they get. When cavities are caught early, usually through routine exams, they can be very simple to handle.
There are often no symptoms with a new cavity. If symptoms occur, they may include tooth pain or achy feeling, particularly when you drink or eat something sweet, hot or cold, or you may see a dark spot or visible pits or holes in the teeth.
If a cavity is allowed to progress, the decay moves deeper into the tooth and eventually can result in a tremendous amount of pain. If continued too long a tooth can become abscessed resulting in swelling and very serious pain.
So, in the case of a cavity, the sooner you can catch and treat them the easier they are to handle.
Types of Cavities
Root decay. This form of cavity is the most common and adults that have receding gums or periodontal disease are particularly vulnerable for root decay. This type of decay is on the surface of the roots of the teeth just at or below the gum line.
Pit and fissure decay. This type of cavity happens on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Usually proper and regular brushing will prevent these types of cavities, but if you are not consistent with your brushing, this type of decay can occur rapidly and can become severe.
Smooth-surface decay. This type of cavity happens on the outside surface of the teeth. Sometimes, if caught early enough, it can be treated with fluoride. These types of cavities are often the result of plaque and bacteria build up on the teeth or food being caught between two teeth. Routine flossing and brushing will help prevent smooth-surface cavities.
Types of Fillings
We will fill your cavity by removing the decayed tooth material with a drill and replacing it with a material such as gold, porcelain or composite resin. Porcelain and composite resin more closely match the natural color of your tooth, so you won’t even notice that you have a filling. Particularly for front teeth, this is the best option.
As many studies have found that mercury can leak into your body through silver amalgam (that contain about 50% mercury) we do not recommend using amalgam fillings.
At Southtown Dental we offer gentle, caring treatment of cavities as well as options to chose from for fillings. We’ll make it as easy and painless as possible and do all we can to help give you a beautiful smile.