Nearly everyone will get a cavity in their lives. But don’t worry. A cavity can be easily fixed.
Unfortunately, cavities affect most people at some point in their lives. While cavities are considered a childhood problem, tooth decay can develop at any age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 52 percent of children between six and eight have a cavity in their primary or baby teeth. The percentage rises to 57 percent for young people ages 12 to 19. By adulthood, 90 percent of people will have had at least one cavity.
But you needn’t worry if you have a cavity. Because cavities are common, your dentist has several proven treatment options to restore your tooth. Let’s review how cavities happen and the best ways to treat cavities.
What is a cavity?
Your tooth consists of a hard outer layer of enamel. Although strong, enamel can weaken when the bacteria in the mouth combine with the sugars in sweets and starches to form an acid. The acid then burrows through the enamel, leading to a cavity or hole in the tooth.
Bacterial infection or decay can then spread to the dentin, the next layer of the tooth. If not treated at this point, the decay can reach even further into the tooth, known as the pulp.
A white spot on the tooth is the earliest indication of a cavity. As the decay progresses, you may see brown or black spots on the tooth. An untreated cavity often leads to symptoms, such as pain, sensitivity to hot and cold, and possibly an infection.
Your treatment options for a cavity
As noted earlier, cavities are one of the most frequent dental complaints. But the good news is that there are several treatments to eliminate decay and get your teeth healthy and whole again.
Fluoride treatment. Fluoride applied directly to your tooth by your dentist can reverse the earliest stage of a cavity.
Filling. Your dentist drills out the decay and fills the cavity with a tooth-colored composite resin, porcelain, or a combination of several materials. All these substances are safe and have been used successfully for decades.
Crowns. For a larger cavity, your dentist will remove the extensive decay and place a crown over the tooth. Crowns are typically made of gold, porcelain, resin, or porcelain fused to metal.
Root canal. When decay extends into the pulp, a root canal is needed. After bacterial infection is cleaned out in the pulp, the tooth will be fitted with a filling or covered with a crown.
Each of these treatments is done under local anesthesia so you won’t feel discomfort. After the procedure, you may experience slight pain and tenderness, but it will soon fade.
How to prevent a cavity
Although quite common, cavities are also extremely preventable. If you want to avoid the hassle of getting a tooth filled, follow these tips to keep decay at bay.
Brush with fluoride toothpaste. Brushing at least twice daily cleans the bacteria from your teeth, while fluoride strengthens the enamel. Follow up with a rinse of fluoride-enhanced antibacterial mouthwash.
Floss daily. Flossing reaches the hard-to-reach places between teeth where bacteria can hide. If you find flossing with traditional floss difficult, buy an interdental cleaner or water flosser.
Increase your fluoride intake. Municipal water supplies are fortified with fluoride, so when you want a sip of water, turn on the tap and fill your glass. Limit bottled water that usually doesn’t contain fluoride.
Skip the sweets. Candy, chips, and pretzels are high in sugar and starches, the same foods that encourage the growth of acid on teeth. If you indulge, brush afterward to clean those substances off your teeth.
See your dentist regularly. Not only can your dentist spot a cavity in its earliest stage and start treatment immediately, but they can also discuss other ways to prevent cavities with you. Supplemental fluoride treatments or dental sealants can protect your teeth from decay.
Meet with the cavity experts in Colorado
Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Fort Collins, CO, location today! Our highly trained dentists can check your teeth for any signs of decay and get your teeth healthy again. Don’t live near our Fort Collins, CO, office? Find one of our other locations near you.
2117 Custer Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80525