A dental cavity also goes by the name of tooth decay and dental caries. It refers to an infection of the outer layer (enamel) and/or inner layer (dentin) of the tooth. The dental cavity presents itself as a hole and weakness in the tooth. As time passes, the dental cavity will grow in size, and continue to invade the tooth, causing destruction. Initially, this process is asymptomatic. As it advances, the tooth may be sensitive to hot and cold, as well as cause a toothache. Furthermore, it is best to take care of a dental cavity when it is first diagnosed. Not only will this help eliminate any painful symptoms, but it will also preserve the structure the tooth. In addition, it is more economical to fix a cavity when it is small, as opposed to when the problem becomes complex.
Dental Cavities can occur for the following reasons:
- A diet rich in sugar and carbohydrates
- Improper oral hygiene (improper brushing and flossing techniques)
- Cracked or broken teeth
- Parafunctional habits
- Worn teeth
Commonly Asked Questions about Dental Cavities
A dental cavity is diagnosed by physically examining the tooth with a combination of a dental x-ray, proper examination by a dentist, and laser.
A dental x-ray is first required in order to determine the extent of the dental decay. Proper anesthesia is administered to numb the tooth. Dental instruments are then used to “scoop” out the dental decay, and filling material is placed to seal the tooth. If the decay is close to the nerve of the tooth, special medicine will be placed underneath the filling material to soothe it. Afterward, the dentist adjusts the filling to match the other teeth with regards to shape, size, and bite patterns. The tooth is then polished to allow for a smooth finish.
- Composite fillings – White fillings
- Inlays and Onlays – Porcelain material that is placed in the tooth. This is a little more durable than the typical composite fillings
- Amalgam – Metal filling that is used on rare occasion
If you have been diagnosed with a dental cavity, it should be fixed immediately. Otherwise, it will continue to grow in size and destroy healthy tooth structure. In addition, when a cavity is smaller in size, less tooth surfaces are affected. This, in turn, can mean a less expensive out of pocket cost to repair the cavity, and more preservation of tooth structure.
This means that the dental cavity in the tooth has progressed very deep into the tooth and is now close to the innermost layer of the tooth, the nerve. If the decay stops short of the pulp, a filling with medicine can be placed. If the decay has progressed into the nerve, a procedure called root canal therapy will be needed instead.
After placement of the filling, there can be some sensitivity. As the tooth acclimates to the filling, any sensitivity should subside in a few days on its own.
Your dentist will provide you with proper care instructions after the visit. You can help maintain the filling by the following methods:
- Maintain a 6 month recare schedule visit with your dentist
- Perform adequate oral hygiene techniques
- Eat a diet low in sugar
- Using fluoride
REMEMBER TO HAVE ROUTINE VISITS WITH YOUR DENTIST TO OPTIMIZE ORAL HEALTH!
Call El Barrio Dental Studio today at (212) 369-0680 to schedule a consultation.